Oregon unemployment claims spike dramatically as state eases requirements

SALEM — According to the Oregon Employment Department, unemployment insurance claims increased by about 2300 percent over two days this week.

The number of initial unemployment insurance claims filed in Oregon rose from approximately 800 on March 16 to a total of 18,500 on March 18. The employment department wrote in a statement on Wednesday that while it knows the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a national and local economic contraction, “it’s too early for unemployment rate or payroll jobs numbers to show the impact of these employment disruptions.”

It is typically necessary for those seeking jobless benefits to prove they are looking for new employment, however, unemployment insurance benefits are now available during temporary layoffs related to COVID-19 situations. These benefits occur for employees whose employer stops operation for a short period of time, such as cleaning following a coronavirus exposure, or by government requirement.

Workers can get unemployment benefits and do not need to seek work with other employers if their place of employment will resume operations. To receive benefits, affected workers must still be able to work, stay in contact with their employer, and be available to work when called back.

A full resource guide with questions and answers about specific COVID-19 coronavirus-related situations and unemployment benefits is available at Oregon.gov/employ. This site also has information for filing an online claim.

You can also call 1-877-FILE-4-UI to file a claim.