Oregon Employment Department
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News Releases
"Working While Claiming" Lets Oregonians Earn More Before Benefits Are Reduced - 09/17/20

September 17, 2020 (SALEM, ORE.)—Today the Oregon Employment Department announced an update to the “Working While Claiming” program, a result of Oregon Senate Bill 1701. It allows Oregonians to work and earn more each week before having their weekly benefit amount reduced.

“We are glad to share another piece of positive news today with the implementation of Senate Bill 1701. This change in how earnings are reported for those who are “working while claiming” allows us to put more unemployment benefits in the hands of under-employed Oregonians. Originally anticipated to be complete in December, we are proud of our ability to get ahead on this programming change while keeping our other IT priorities on track,” said David Gerstenfeld, acting director of the Oregon Employment Department.

Senate Bill 1701 allows claimants to earn up to $300 before seeing a reduction in their weekly benefits. Claimants working 39 hours or less per week and earning less than their weekly benefit amount can earn up to $300 without seeing any change to their weekly benefits. Any amount earned over $300 will be reduced from their weekly benefit, dollar-for-dollar. However, claimants working 40 hours or more or earning the same or more than their weekly benefit amount in a week are not eligible to receive any benefits.

This statutory change is effective from September 6, 2020 through January 1, 2022. The new income threshold applies to all benefit programs, including regular Unemployment Insurance (UI), Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), and Extended Benefits (EB).

For Oregonians receiving any type of unemployment benefits during this period, adjustments to their weekly benefit amount will be automatic. Claimants do not need to contact the Department to request an adjustment, unless they made a mistake when reporting their earnings. For claims already paid this week, the Department will make manual adjustments as needed and will issue retroactive payments to claimants who qualify. 

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Equal Opportunity program — auxiliary aids and services available upon request to individuals with disabilities. Contact: (503) 947-1794. For people who are deaf or hard of hearing, call 711 Telecommunications Relay Services.

 

Oregon Employment Department Acting Director David Gerstenfeld to hold weekly media briefing - 09/15/20

WHO:              David Gerstenfeld, Acting Director, Oregon Employment Department

WHEN:            Wed., Sept. 16, 2020 at 1:00 p.m. PT

WHAT:            Oregon Employment Department Acting Director David Gerstenfeld will hold a video conference media briefing to share updates on unemployment claims processing on Wed. Sept. 16 at 1:00 p.m. PT. Gerstenfeld will provide an update on claims processing, including an update on how the Oregon wildfires may impact unemployment benefits.

WHERE:         Via Zoom video conference; Members of the media must RSVP for call information by emailing OED_Communications@oregon.gov by 12:00 p.m. PT on Wed., Sept. 16. Video conference information will be provided to all reporters who RSVP.

OTHER:          The Oregon Employment Department is updating a claims processing progress data dashboard daily. Visit this link for week day updates. A recording of the video conference will be sent out shortly after the media briefing concludes.

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Equal Opportunity program — auxiliary aids and services available upon request to individuals with disabilities. Contact: (503) 947-1794. For people who are deaf or hard of hearing, call 711 Telecommunications Relay Services.

Attached Media Files: 9.16_Media_availability_FINAL.pdf
Oregon's Unemployment Rate Drops to 7.7 Percent in August - 09/15/20

Wildfires Impact

Devastating wildfires have ravaged workplaces, homes, communities, and more than 1 million acres of land across Oregon over the past several days. This release covers the Oregon employment situation in August. It does not capture the personal and economic disruption caused by these disasters.

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Oregon’s unemployment rate dropped to 7.7 percent in August from 10.4 percent in July. The unemployment rate was more than double last year’s rate of 3.6 percent in August 2019. Meanwhile, the U.S. unemployment rate dropped to 8.4 percent in August from 10.2 percent in July.

Oregon’s total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 11,300 jobs in August, following a revised gain of 17,700 jobs in July. Over the past four months, employers added back 41 percent of the jobs that were cut in March and April.

Over-the-month job gains in August were largest in leisure and hospitality (+4,200 jobs); retail trade (+3,300); construction (+3,200); and government (+3,000). Two industries cut a substantial number of jobs in August: wholesale trade (-1,400 jobs) and health care and social assistance (-1,400).

Leisure and hospitality—which includes restaurants, drinking establishments, hotels, and recreational industries—has added back the most jobs of any of the major industries over the past four months. Despite adding 63,200 jobs during the past four months, leisure and hospitality is only a little over halfway back to its February 2020 peak employment level, prior to the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Retail trade has bounced back closer to its recent peak employment level. It added 16,100 jobs over the past four months, which was nearly three-quarters of the jobs lost earlier in the year. The third industry to add back more than half of its jobs lost, while also rebounding by more than 10,000 jobs, was health care and social assistance. This industry, despite a 1,400-job loss in August, added 18,000 jobs over the past four months, regaining nearly two-thirds of its March and April job losses.

Not all industries have rebounded with substantial job growth over the past four months. In August, the following industries remained near their low point for the year: manufacturing; government; information; and professional and business services.

Next Press Releases

The Oregon Employment Department plans to release the August county and metropolitan area unemployment rates on Tuesday, September 22nd, and the next statewide unemployment rate and employment survey data for September on Tuesday, October 13th.

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Equal Opportunity program — auxiliary aids and services available upon request to individuals with disabilities. Contact: (503) 947-1794. For people who are deaf or hard of hearing, call 711 Telecommunications Relay Services.

 

Oregon Employment Department Takes First Step to Providing Lost Wages Assistance Benefits - 09/11/20

September 11, 2020 (SALEM, ORE.)—Today the Oregon Employment Department launched online self-certification for the Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) program, a temporary emergency measure that gives an additional $300 per week to people out of work due to COVID-19 and who receive unemployment benefits. To meet FEMA requirements, claimants seeking LWA benefits must certify that they are receiving unemployment benefits for COVID-19-related reasons.

“Today, we are able to share a bit of positive news: Claimants eligible for LWA can now self-certify for these benefits online, ensuring they'll receive LWA payments in the coming weeks. After a stressful week for Oregonians, on top of nearly six months of stress and uncertainty, we are glad to have launched the program that will allow us to get these urgently needed benefits out,” said David Gerstenfeld, acting director of the Oregon Employment Department.

Starting today, claimants can self-certify for LWA using the Online Claims System. Soon, certification may also be completed over the phone; however, we strongly urge claimants to self-certify online if they can, to avoid long hold times and delays in getting through.

Oregonians automatically qualify for LWA if they:

  • Have received unemployment benefits from July 26, 2020, through September 5, 2020; and
  • Self-certify they are unemployed or partially unemployed due to disruptions caused by COVID-19.

Self-certification is a new step for claimants currently receiving regular unemployment insurance (UI) benefits, Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), and Extended Benefits (EB). Individuals receiving Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) do not need to certify because they certified when first applying for PUA benefits.

LWA is retroactive to eligible claimants for weeks ending:

  • August 1, 2020
  • August 8, 2020
  • August 15, 2020
  • August 22, 2020
  • August 29, 2020
  • September 5, 2020

FEMA has confirmed that LWA ends with the benefit week ending September 5, 2020. Because the funds provided by FEMA were limited, the Employment Department cannot extend payments beyond that date. If individuals become unemployed after the week ending August 1, 2020, they can only receive LWA for weeks when they qualify for unemployment benefits and meet LWA eligibility requirements.

The Department plans to start providing LWA funds to qualified Oregonians by the end of September. LWA payments are taxable under federal law, just like regular unemployment insurance (UI) or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) benefits. If taxes are withheld from other benefits, they will also be withheld from the LWA benefits.

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Equal Opportunity program — auxiliary aids and services available upon request to individuals with disabilities. Contact: (503) 947-1794. For people who are deaf or hard of hearing, call 711 Telecommunications Relay Services.

Department of Administrative Services Issues Notice of Intent to Contract with Vendor for Unemployment Insurance Modernization Project - 09/10/20

September 10, 2020 (SALEM, ORE.)—The Department of Administrative Services has announced its intent to award a contract to FAST Enterprises for the Oregon Employment Department’s unemployment insurance modernization project.

“After a year-long procurement process, the Employment Department is one step closer to completing our modernization program today. These improvements will allow us to more effectively serve unemployed Oregonians and improve security. I want to remind Oregonians that while we move forward with modernization, we won’t “turn off” old systems until we are confident the new ones work. Oversight by the Oregon State Legislature and the U.S. Department of Labor are important safeguards that could highlight any possible concerns before going live,” Gerstenfeld said.

The modernized unemployment system will dramatically improve the process of receiving and administering benefits to diverse populations. Modernization will provide flexibility and improvements to accessing the system, and will expand and customize the system by language, gender preference, and ADA compliance. It will also incorporate more self-service options and improved automation with personal customer service.

The Oregon Employment Department has created a dedicated Modernization team, which will work with the vendor and representatives from other agencies to carry out the project. This team will also focus on ensuring that progress made on paying unemployment insurance benefits will not be halted by the modernization project.

The Notice of Intent to Award a contract to FAST Enterprises can be found here.

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Equal Opportunity program — auxiliary aids and services available upon request to individuals with disabilities. Contact: (503) 947-1794. For people who are deaf or hard of hearing, call 711 Telecommunications Relay Services.

Oregon Employment Department Acting Director David Gerstenfeld to hold weekly media briefing - 09/08/20

WHO:              David Gerstenfeld, Acting Director, Oregon Employment Department

WHEN:            Wed., Sept. 9, 2020 at 1:00 p.m. PT

WHAT:            Oregon Employment Department Acting Director David Gerstenfeld will hold a video conference media briefing to share updates on unemployment claims processing on Wed. Sept. 9 at 1:00 p.m. PT. Gerstenfeld will provide an update on claims processing, as well as federal and state initiatives to get more unemployment benefits to Oregonians.

WHERE:         Via Zoom video conference; Members of the media must RSVP for call information by emailing OED_Communications@oregon.gov by 12:00 p.m. PT on Wed., Sept. 9. Video conference information will be provided to all reporters who RSVP.

OTHER:          The Oregon Employment Department is updating a claims processing progress data dashboard daily. Visit this link for week day updates. A recording of the video conference will be sent out shortly after the media briefing concludes.

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Equal Opportunity program — auxiliary aids and services available upon request to individuals with disabilities. Contact: (503) 947-1794. For people who are deaf or hard of hearing, call 711 Telecommunications Relay Services
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Attached Media Files: 9.9_Media_availability_FINAL.pdf
Oregon Employment Department Acting Director David Gerstenfeld to hold weekly media briefing - 09/01/20

WHO:              David Gerstenfeld, Acting Director, Oregon Employment Department

WHEN:            Thurs., Sept. 3, 2020 at 2:00 p.m. PT

WHAT:            Oregon Employment Department Acting Director David Gerstenfeld will hold a video conference media briefing to share updates on unemployment claims processing on Thurs. Sept. 3 at 2:00 p.m. PT. Gerstenfeld will provide an update on claims processing, as well as federal and state initiatives to get more unemployment benefits to Oregonians.

WHERE:         Via Zoom video conference; Members of the media must RSVP for call information by emailing OED_Communications@oregon.gov by 12:00 p.m. PT on Thurs., Sept. 3. Video conference information will be provided to all reporters who RSVP.

OTHER:          The Oregon Employment Department is updating a claims processing progress data dashboard daily. Visit this link for week day updates. A recording of the video conference will be sent out shortly after the media briefing concludes.

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Equal Opportunity program — auxiliary aids and services available upon request to individuals with disabilities. Contact: (503) 947-1794. For people who are deaf or hard of hearing, call 711 Telecommunications Relay Services.

Attached Media Files: 9.3_Media_availability_FINAL.pdf
Oregon Employment Department Approved to Begin Dispersing Lost Wages Assistance Benefits; More relief needed from Congress to help Oregonians weather the slow economic recovery - 08/28/20

August 28, 2020 (Salem, Ore.)—Today the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) approved the Oregon Employment Department’s application for the Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) program, a temporary emergency measure that gives an additional $300 per week to people who are out of work due to COVID-19 and who and are receiving unemployment benefits.

“We know this has been a very stressful period for many Oregonians. While we continue to hope for more robust, longer-term support for those in need, we are excited to be able to provide additional financial relief at this time. We are working quickly to get this program up and running, and get funds out the door as soon as possible,” said David Gersenfeld, acting director of the Oregon Employment Department.

The LWA program, which can use up to a total of $44 million in disaster relief funding, may run for three to five weeks, or potentially longer. The exact duration is uncertain, and depends on the number of participating states and the number of payments that go out. It may also be depleted in the event of a natural disaster. Oregon has been approved to provide three weeks of payments, and benefits will be dispersed to Oregonians who received unemployment benefits from July 26 through August 15. The department will seek additional weeks of LWA benefits as soon as they become available.

Oregonians automatically qualify for this program if they:

  • Have received unemployment benefits from July 26, 2020, through August 15, 2020; and
  • Self-certify they are unemployed or partially unemployed due to disruptions caused by COVID-19. This will require a new step for claimants currently receiving regular unemployment benefits, Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) and Extended Benefits (EB). Individuals receiving Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) will not need to certify because they already did so when they first applied for benefits.

The Employment Department has already been working to implement this program in an effort to get benefits to people as soon as possible. That work is not yet complete, but as soon as the Employment Department has an estimated time when payments will be released, or next steps for people to seek these benefits, that information will be shared publicly, including on the Employment Department’s website (unemployment.oregon.gov).

LWA is retroactive to eligible claimants beginning with the week ending August 1, 2020. However, if individuals become unemployed after the week ending August 1, 2020, they only can receive LWA for weeks where they qualify for unemployment benefits and meet LWA eligibility requirements.

LWA payments are taxable under federal law, just like regular unemployment insurance (UI) or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) benefits. If taxes are withheld from other benefits, they will also be withheld from the LWA benefits.

The LWA program only provides federal funding for $300 weekly benefit payments. Official guidance from the Department of Labor prohibits states from using Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund money to provide the additional $100. Providing the additional $100 per week would require the Oregon Legislature to appropriate money to pay for those benefits.

For more information about filing for unemployment insurance benefits, visit unemployment.oregon.gov. To submit a question related to unemployment insurance, please use the Contact Us form.

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Equal Opportunity program — auxiliary aids and services available upon request to individuals with disabilities. Contact: (503) 947-1794. For people who are deaf or hard of hearing, call 711 Telecommunications Relay Services.

Attached Media Files: 8_28__LWAP_FINAL.pdf
Oregon Employment Department Acting Director David Gerstenfeld to hold weekly media briefing - 08/25/20

WHO:              David Gerstenfeld, Acting Director, Oregon Employment Department

WHEN:            Wed., Aug. 26, 2020 at 1:00 p.m. PT

WHAT:            Oregon Employment Department Acting Director David Gerstenfeld will hold a video conference media briefing to share updates on unemployment claims processing on Wed. Aug. 26 at 1:00 p.m. PT. Gerstenfeld will provide an update on claims processing, as well as federal and state initiatives to get more unemployment benefits to Oregonians.

WHERE:         Via Zoom video conference; Members of the media must RSVP for call information by emailing OED_Communications@oregon.gov by 12:00 p.m. PT on Wed., Aug. 26. Video conference information will be provided to all reporters who RSVP.

OTHER:          The Oregon Employment Department is updating a claims processing progress data dashboard daily. Visit this link for week day updates. A recording of the video conference will be sent out shortly after the media briefing concludes.

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Equal Opportunity program — auxiliary aids and services available upon request to individuals with disabilities. Contact: (503) 947-1794. For people who are deaf or hard of hearing, call 711 Telecommunications Relay Services.

Attached Media Files: 8.25_Media_availability_FINAL.pdf