Lane County Lost More Jobs than the State in Recent Recessions

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by Henry Fields, Workforce Analyst, for Employment in Oregon

During the Great Recession, employment dropped more and took longer to recover in Lane County than in the state as a whole. Part of that had to do with the importance to our local economy of certain sectors that were particularly vulnerable, such as manufacturing and construction-dependent industries.

In recent months in Lane County, the COVID-19 pandemic and response measures have affected employment sharply, with a March to April decline of 25,000 jobs, by far the largest on record. Based on what we know so far, we also appear to have lost a greater number of jobs relative to the size of our economy than the state.

The graph below shows the trajectory of the two recessions and recoveries in Oregon and Lane County, with blue representing the state’s change in jobs and yellow Lane County’s.

The Great Recession (the dotted lines) had more of an effect on Lane County employment, and our recovery took longer to take hold, as the lines widen and separate after about 18 months from peak employment. In the early days of the 2020 recession, Lane County appears to have been more deeply impacted as well.

In 2020, our industry mix again tells part of the story. In 2019, Lane County had slightly more jobs on a percentage basis in the three industries with the highest number of May 2020 continued Unemployment Insurance claims in the state: accommodations and food service, retail trade, and health care and social assistance.

We don’t know exactly what shape the recovery will take in Lane County, Oregon, or the nation, but we can hope that the recovery in employment will happen more quickly than during the 2008 recession. It’s difficult to say whether that will happen. On the bright side, employment grew in May of 2020, much earlier than employment grew after 2008. As is evident from the graph though, we’re talking about a much more severe and sudden shock to employment in 2020.

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