Oregon’s unemployment rate rose slightly in December, from 6% to 6.4%, the first monthly increase following seven months of decline, according to data released this week by the Oregon Employment Department.

Meanwhile, the U.S. unemployment rate remained at 6.7% in both November and December. The Douglas County unemployment numbers are scheduled to be released next week.

Oregon’s over-the-month percent job loss was much greater than nationally. In December, Oregon lost 1.4% of nonfarm payroll employment while the U.S. shed 0.1%. Oregon’s total nonfarm payroll employment dropped by 25,500 jobs in December, following a revised gain of 2,100 jobs in November, according to the Oregon Employment Department. The drop followed seven consecutive months of gains. Total nonfarm payroll employment stood at nearly 1.8 million jobs in December, which was an over-the-year decline from December 2019 of 174,000 jobs, or 8.9%.

“December’s job losses reflect the devastation COVID-19 continues to inflict on the lives and livelihoods of Oregonians. Ten months into the pandemic, Oregon has regained just 37% of the jobs lost in this recession,” Gail Krumenauer, State employment economist with the Oregon Employment Department, said in a news release.

December job losses in Oregon were greatest in leisure and hospitality, which cut 28,600 jobs. Several other industries also cut at least 800 jobs in December, including private educational services, whoch lost 1,700 jobs; government, which shed 1,300; wholesale trade saw a loss of 1,100 jobs; manufacturing lost 900 jobs; and construction lost 800 jobs.

In contrast to those job losses, four major industries each added thousands of jobs: the retail trade sector added 2,200 jobs as did the transportation, warehousing, and utilities sector and health care and social assistance, while professional and business services added 2,100 jobs.

Within leisure and hospitality, full-service restaurants cut 17,600 jobs in December, which was the largest drop of its component industries. Full-service restaurants, where in-person dining has been severely reduced due to the pandemic, have cut far more jobs than limited-service eating places, which shed 2,000 jobs in December, according to the Oregon Employment Department data.

On the plus side, reflecting the rapid increase in online shopping, the industries that employ warehouse workers and package delivery drivers boosted December employment in industries within transportation, warehousing, and utilities. In particular, couriers and messengers added 3,600 jobs in December, the data shows.

Scott Carroll can be reached at scarroll@nrtoday.com or 541-957-4204. Or follow him on Twitter @scottcarroll15.

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