By News-Register staff • 

Unemployment claims soar in Yamhill County

The News-Register staff

Claims for unemployment in Yamhill County jumped to 388 in the latest reporting period, and will likely climb again as state officials catch up with the backlog of incoming requests.

The number of weekly claims had held steady until the large spike for the week of March 15 to 21. Just a week earlier, there were 91 claims, according to data the Oregon Employment Department released Thursday.

"Keep in mind statewide we had 76,500 initial claims filed last week, but only 22,800 -- or 30% -- have been processed so far," said Patrick O’Connor, the department's regional economist for Yamhill, Marion, Polk, Linn and Benton counties.

When the rest of the 76,500 initial claims are processed, “we will have the full picture of claims from last week,” he said.

Department officials are taking several measures to meet the unprecedented need for unemployment benefits, due largely to reduced hours and layoffs related to the coronavirus pandemic, agency communications director Gail Kiles Krumenauer said.

Over the past two weeks, the department also hired new employees, shifted existing staff working in other program areas and trained them -- doubling the number of employees working on unemployment claims.

"We will continue adding and training employees to process unemployment claims in the coming weeks," Krumenauer said.

Record levels of unemployment claims cause longer wait times as department personnel work to gather and process the details factoring into each individual claimant’s eligibility and weekly benefit amount.

"We encourage Oregonians who have lost their jobs to file claims using our online system to lower wait times by phone," said Krumenauer. "A new video from the Employment Department shows step-by-step details for filing an online claim."

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