Oregon’s unemployment rate was 3.3 percent in March, which was the same as in both January and February. The U.S. unemployment rate rose from 3.5 percent in February to 4.4 percent in March, showing the leading edge of job losses related to the pandemic as closures began to take hold around the country.
Oregon’s labor force data for March showed little impact from the spread of the coronavirus, since the March unemployment rate is based on people’s activity during the week that included Sunday, March 8th through Saturday, March 14th. The monthly unemployment rate is always based on a person’s employment status for the week that includes the 12th of each month. And, in general, if a person works for even a part of the reference week, then they are counted as employed (and thus not counted as unemployed). By mid-March, these estimates were based on data collected prior to the majority of the COVID-19 impacts in Oregon; therefore, most of the changes to jobs and unemployment counts will be reflected in the release of the April data. In March, there were 69,400 unemployed Oregonians, which remained near the lowest number in more than 40 years.
Total non-farm payroll employment declined by 4,800 jobs in March, following a gain of 2,000 jobs in February. Three major industries lost at least 1,000 jobs in March: leisure and hospitality (-2,000 jobs), retail trade (-1,700), and private educational services (-1,000). Only one industry gained a substantial number of jobs in March: construction (+900 jobs).