Report: Oregon sees second-largest unemployment spike in U.S. in recent weeks

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — After seeing record-low unemployment rates in 2022 and 2023, the U.S. job market has started to decline, according to unemployment data compiled by WalletHub.

Unemployment claims in the U.S. increased by 4.2% between Jan. 8 and Jan. 22. The cooling job market was especially noticeable in Oregon, which saw the second-highest increase in unemployment claims among all U.S. states, the data shows. Oregon also ranked first for the most unemployment claims filed per 100,000 People in the Labor Force during this time.

While the claims have risen, Oregon State Economist Joshua Lehner said that Oregon’s recent unemployment data looks similar to the past few years.

“The first few weeks of initial claims in Oregon to start the year look really similar to recent years,” Lehner said. “Now, claims are up compared to the historic lows in 2022, which is really more about the really fast job gains as the economy reopened post-pandemic and firms staffed up — hardly any layoffs then — and also, as some workers exhausted benefits during the pandemic meaning there were fewer potential [unemployment insurance] claims at the time.”

<em>Year-over-year Oregon employment statistics. (Oregon Office of Economic Analysis)</em>
Year-over-year Oregon employment statistics. (Oregon Office of Economic Analysis)

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Oregon ranked second to New York, which topped the list for the largest rise in unemployment claims in recent weeks. During this period, 27 of the 50 U.S. states and Washington, D.C., saw a rise in unemployment. The states that didn’t see a rise in unemployment include South Dakota, Montana, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Illinois, Wyoming, Idaho, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, Utah, Maine, Iowa, Kansas, Connecticut, Oklahoma, Florida, Michigan, Hawaii and Virginia.

<em>U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Civilian unemployment rates. (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)</em>
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Civilian unemployment rates. (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Civilian unemployment rate, unemployment rates in the U.S. remain at near-all-time lows. Lehner said that any recent minor changes are related to the economy’s “rebalancing” in the wake of the pandemic.

“The good news for the labor market is it has rebalanced,” Lehner said. “Layoffs are up a bit, but not spiraling upward, at least at the moment.”

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