2020 unemployment

After peaking at 24.2% in April, unemployment in Clatsop County decreased to 6.1% in November before creeping up to 8.1% in February.

After a slight downturn during winter, employment in Clatsop County has stabilized heading into spring.

The county’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was at 8.1% in February, according to the latest state figures, compared to 3.3% a year ago before the coronavirus pandemic. The county went from more than 24% unemployment in April down to 6.1% in November, slightly lower than the state’s unemployment rate. Unemployment crept up to 8.2% in January before leveling off. The statewide unemployment rate in February was 6.1%.

The county added 30 jobs in February, instead of the 220 expected by state economists heading into spring. Total nonfarm employment was at 17,490, down 1,610 from the year prior.

Leisure and hospitality accounted for more than 1,000 of the job losses, with around 23% of jobs in lodgings, restaurants and bars cut over the past year. Local government employment also dropped by 230 over the past year, with parks and other services curtailed by the virus.

Erik Knoder, a regional economist with the Oregon Employment Department, said employers are adding jobs back but struggling to find employees because of several potential factors related to the virus, including lack of child care, high housing costs and low wages. But he expects things to look better in March’s employment figures being released April 20.

“What we’ve been hearing is that employers are looking for employees,” he said. “They are starting to hire. So I have expectations that March will certainly show some growth. I don’t think it will be explosive.”