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As Oregon Adds More Jobs In Summer 2021, Leisure And Hospitality Sector Struggles


While Oregon’s unemployment rate has dropped in recent months, one sector is still lagging behind the others. 

Last month, the state’s unemployment rate was 5.6%, compared to 5.8% in May.  That’s slightly lower than the national rate, which is encouraging for Oregonians.

The biggest gains were in health care and social assistance. But while the leisure and hospitality sector added jobs, it’s still hurting compared to pre-pandemic levels according to state economist Gail Krumenauer.

“The sector is still 22% below where it was in February 2020. And has only added about 1,500 jobs over the past months. That is a difficult thing as we were heading into -and are now in- that summer hiring season and that tourism season.” 

Krumenauer said while many Oregonians have come back to work, many are going into transportation, warehousing, and utilities rather than leisure and hospitality.  June’s unemployment rate for Oregon is better than at the end of 2020, which was 6.3%. 

“This could be the strongest year of job growth that we’ve seen in decades," Krumenauer told KLCC. "And we have seen that there is rapid hiring, happening. And that said, we need that rapid hiring to continue because we only regained 64% of the jobs that were lost in the spring of 2020.  So we still have a ways to go before we can close that gap.”

Oregon’s unemployment rate is also ahead of the national rate, which is 5.9%.

Krumenauer said that if anyone turns down work solely because they are getting more on unemployment benefits, that’s considered fraud, and should be reported by employers at https://app.smartsheetgov.com/b/form/7a927a47c1cf46059ea48cf5155164ca.

"There are still some Oregonians who have barriers getting back into the labor force, either because they are immunocompromised, they lack child care options during summer break from school, or other COVID-19 related reasons," she added. "Between April and June, there was a monthly average of 32,500 Oregonians who indicated they were prevented from looking for work due to pandemic-related reasons."

Copyright 2021, KLCC. 

Brian Bull joined the KLCC News Team in June 2016. In his 25+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (19 regional), the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
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