PORTLAND, OR -- New research shows what happened to all those people laid off during pandemic-related shutdowns. State Employment Economist Gail Krumenauer calls it a remarkable turnaround, "Oregon has regained nine out of ten jobs lost during the pandemic recession, and that’s a relatively fast recovery. By comparison, it took Oregon more than six years to recover from the Great Recession."
Krumenauer and Regional Economist Damon Runberg studied the employment records of those laid off in the spring of 2020. "The most common outcome we saw with these workers who were impacted by the pandemic, that lost a job, was that they went back to work with the exact same employer that laid them off," says Runberg, "So, slightly more than 1/3 of those claimants returned and were still working for the same employer by the beginning of 2022." He says the vast majority of those are over the age of 55. "For those claimants who lost a job that were 25 or younger, they were more likely to not just switch employers, but also to switch industry sectors completely by 2022." And, according to Runberg, their wages are as much as 13% higher compared to before the lay-off.
Overall, 70% of those who claimed unemployment during the pandemic are again working somewhere in Oregon. They found 29% no longer appear in state records. Runberg says they may be self-employed, retired or back at school, or moved out of state.
The recovery is still uneven, based on the study. Runberg says Industries like Construction, and Professional and Technical Services have more jobs than before the pandemic. "On the other end of the spectrum, we do have industries that are continuing to lag behind in the recovery. But these were sort of industries that were disproportionately impacted by those COVID-related layoffs: Leisure and Hospitality, which includes restaurants and hotels, and Local Government, which includes to a large extent local school districts, which saw large COVID layoffs."
According to the Oregon Employment Department, the state has seen more than 100, 000 job openings at any given time, over the past year.