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Oregon’s March jobless rate was steady — just before COVID-19’s impact hit

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SALEM, Ore. (KTVZ) -- The Oregon Employment Department released its March jobless rate on Tuesday -- unchanged, at 3.3 percent, because the data came from just before the big impact of the COVID-19 virus.

Here's the report, with the explanatory note:

COVID-19 Impact: March data from Oregon’s establishment and household surveys do not reflect the early effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on the labor market. This is because the data used for today’s report was collected prior to public health measures related to social distancing began on March 17th. We expect the April data, published on May 19th, to show the early effects on employment and the unemployment rate in Oregon. Please see the Weekly New Unemployment Insurance Claims report for the latest information on initial claims for unemployment insurance.

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 nonfarm 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).

Next Press Releases

The Oregon Employment Department plans to release the March county and metropolitan area unemployment rates on Tuesday, April 21st, and the next statewide unemployment rate and employment survey data for April on Tuesday, May 19th.


All numbers in the above narrative are seasonally adjusted.

The Oregon Employment Department and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) work cooperatively to develop and publish monthly Oregon payroll employment and labor force data. The estimates of monthly job gains and losses are based on a survey of businesses. The estimates of unemployment are based on a survey of households and other sources.


The PDF version of the news release, including tables and graphs, can be found at To obtain the data in other formats such as in Excel, visit, then within the top banner, select Economic Data, then choose LAUS or CES. To request the press release as a Word document, contact the person shown at the top of this press release.

For help finding jobs and training resources, visit one of the state's WorkSource Oregon centers or go to:

Equal Opportunity program — auxiliary aids and services available upon request to individuals with disabilities. Contact: (503) 947-1794. For people who are deaf or hard of hearing, call 711 Telecommunications Relay Services.

Article Topic Follows: Oregon-Northwest

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