Posted by: Josh Lehner | August 25, 2020

Checking in on Oregon’s Regions, July 2020

This morning the Oregon Employment Department released county level data for July 2020. I thought it might be useful to take a quick look at how the initial stages of recovery are shaping up across the state. Keep in mind that this is predominantly preliminary data that will be revised and benchmarked in the months ahead. That said, looking at the high level data now does give us indications of the severity of the recession and strength of the recovery so far.

While I do not normally like to mix business cycles on the same chart like this I found it particularly impactful as I have been updating my files. The fact that rural Oregon, just before the pandemic hit, had finally returned to its employment levels seen prior to the Great Recession was a reason for celebration. However, the number of jobs across rural Oregon today is now the same as it was at the depths of the Great Recession. On the other hand, even with severe COVID-related job losses, urban Oregon’s strong job growth last expansion means there are still more jobs today than during the mid-aughts.

Now, urban Oregon and rural Oregon are not monoliths. There is tremendous variation across our communities that gets masked over when looking at these very high level cuts of the data. Even looking regionally, it is clear that parts of rural Oregon have seen more significant losses than others. In particular, job losses along the North Coast and in the Gorge (Hood River) were the most severe. On the other hand much of eastern Oregon has seen less severe losses, although nowhere is unscathed. Among urban areas the Rogue Valley is seeing better labor market readings, while the Portland area is a bit worse.

Finally, this last chart looks at the counties individually and shows how severe the initial shock was in dark blue, and how jobs current stack up to pre-recession levels in light blue.

Bottom Line: Across the state the economy is healing following the initial stages of the pandemic. The data will be revised some moving forward. Once it is, we will be better able to dig deeper and examine the severity across sectors for the different regional economies in the state. But for now this data provides a good, high level look at current state of the labor market. For more see our previous work for thoughts on the local level outlook, and the impact of federal programs like the PPP. We also have been working on local estimates of the impact of the household recovery rebates and expanded unemployment insurance benefits which we will share in the weeks ahead.


  1. […] Source: Checking in on Oregon’s Regions, July 2020 | Oregon Office of Economic Analysis […]

  2. […] Source: Checking in on Oregon’s Regions, July 2020 | Oregon Office of Economic Analysis […]

  3. Hood River looks like one of the harder hit counties. Have you dug into what is causing higher unemployment in the hardest hit counties? Like is it the tourism sector that’s making it so bad for some of these counties?

    • Hi Heather,

      It is clear that counties with more leisure and hospitality saw more severe recessions, at least the initial drop. In terms of whether it is holding back growth in recent months or not, time will tell. We do need to wait for more data and more importantly upcoming revisions before doing a real analysis there, but it is likely a key factor.


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