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Economist Gives Update For Benton County

Greg Keene
Benton County

Unemployment claims have spiked in Benton County, just like in much of Oregon. That’s according to a regional economist with the Oregon Employment Department.

Patrick O’Connor briefed local business leaders during an online meeting Tuesday. He said the largest areas of job loss are in hotels, restaurants, and health care.

That last category might be a surprise, considering the state is in a public health crisis. But O’Connor said a lot of non-emergency medical care is being put on hold, which affects all aspects of the health care field. “Even in terms of people billing, you know if procedures aren’t happening, you don’t need people in the billing department. So maybe that’s a bigger loss than people would have expected,” he said.

O’Connor said the overall number of unemployment claims in Benton County increased by tenfold over the past three weeks, compared to the first two-and-a-half months of the year. 

Chris Lehman has been reporting on Oregon issues since 2006. He joined the KLCC news department in December 2018 and became News Director in March 2023. Chris was born and raised in Pennsylvania, and graduated from Temple University with a degree in journalism. His public broadcasting career includes stops in Louisiana and Illinois. Chris has filed for national programs including “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered.”