By Associated Press • 

Jobless claims soar in Oregon from COVID-19 layoffs

By GILLIAN FLACCUS Associated Press

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Jobless claims are soaring in Oregon as the state nears the end of its first week under Gov. Kate Brown's stay-at-home order prompted by the coronavirus outbreak, the Oregon Department of Employment said Thursday.

Since March 15, the state has received 76,500 initial unemployment claims. That's a sharp increase from the 4,900 claims the week of March 8, before the economic devastation of the new coronavirus took hold, the department said.

Hospitality and leisure jobs made up about half the 22,800 claims processed in the last week, signifying the impact of the executive order that banned dine-in service at restaurants and bars and banned non-essential travel. Schools are also closed until April 28.

Deschutes Brewery, an iconic craft brewery, also said Wednesday that it will lay off 300 employees and close its pubs and tasting rooms. Other uniquely Oregon businesses, such as McMenamin's and Powell's Books, have laid off hundreds of workers as well.

Oregon’s jobless rate was at a historic low last month of just 3.3%, but recent warnings have suggested unemployment could rise as high as 20% during the outbreak.

Brown said earlier this week that she is "gravely concerned" about Oregon's ability to deliver basic services over the next six months to a year because of the economic fallout from statewide closures, massive lay-offs by affected businesses and stay-at-home orders aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus.

Also Thursday, the city of Hood River closed its motels, hotels, short-term vacation rentals, hosted home shares, bed and breakfasts, RV parks and campgrounds until April 14. The city said it took the action because despite the governor's stay-at-home order issued Monday, people are still traveling to the Columbia River Gorge in large numbers and not following social distancing requirements of maintaining at least six feet of space between people.



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