Unemployment claims break record

SALEM, Ore. – The coronavirus pandemic is leaving its mark on the economy as unemployment claims spike.

More than three million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, more than quadruple the previous record set in 1982 when 695,000 people filed for benefits.

The massive spike in new jobless claims comes as nationwide lockdowns to halt the spread of the coronavirus have kept Americans from their jobs.

According to the Labor Department, only 282,000 people filed for unemployment in the previous week, before lockdowns began.

Some experts say Thursday’s numbers only reflect the tip of the iceberg and expect jobless claims to increase in the coming weeks.

In Oregon, during the week of March 15, the Oregon Employment Department received more than 76,500 claims for unemployment benefits. The following week, jobless claims hit a statewide record again. This comes on the heels of a relatively normal seven-day stretch of 4,900 claims during the week of March 8.

The Oregon Employment Department said, with the record unemployment claims, it’s trying to be proactive with the unprecedented influx. However, there may still be delays. The department is encouraging Oregonians to use the online system to file claims.

The Oregon Employment Department has also enacted temporary rules, adding more flexibility for unemployment benefits to help Oregonians affected by COVID-19 business closures.

To file an online claim for unemployment benefits, go to Oregon.gov/employ or call 1-877-FILE-4-UI.

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