Oregon Employment Department
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News Releases
Oregon Employment Department Acting Director David Gerstenfeld to hold weekly media - 08/04/20

WHO:              David Gerstenfeld, Acting Director, Oregon Employment Department

WHEN:            Wed., Aug. 5, 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. 5 at 1:00 p.m. PT. Gerstenfeld will provide an update on PUA claims processing, FOCUS PUA, adjudication and overall unemployment claims progress.

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. 5. 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: 8.05_Media_availability_Final.pdf
Tens of Thousands of Oregonians Awaiting Adjudication Could Receive Unemployment Benefits While They Wait - 07/31/20

July 31, 2020 (Salem, Ore.) –The Oregon Employment Department today announced that it has found a way to pay benefits to thousands of Oregonians who are out of work due to COVID-19 while they wait for their claim, or “Benefits While You Wait.” This applies to Oregonians who are waiting for their claim to be reviewed by an adjudicator to determine whether they are eligible for regular unemployment or the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program.

“We are confident this group of Oregonians are eligible for benefits because they lost their job due to COVID-19, we just don’t know which program they are eligible for yet,” said Employment Department Acting Director David Gerstenfeld. “We have found a workaround that will allow us to pay benefits while their claims are being reviewed by an adjudicator. We are grateful we have figured out a way to do this because Oregonians have been waiting too long.”

The Employment Department is proactively notifying claimants who have been identified to fall into this group via email and robo calls. 

Strict laws governing unemployment insurance to prevent fraud and provide people due process require that each claim be reviewed. The Employment Department estimates that tens of thousands of Oregonians whose claims are in adjudication may be eligible for PUA if they are not eligible for regular unemployment. This pool of Oregonians could begin receiving “Benefits While You Wait.” We are going to contact people who may be able to receive “Benefits While You Wait” over the next several weeks.

Oregonians who may be eligible for “Benefits While You Wait”:

  1. Applied for regular unemployment benefits;
  2. Had their claim flagged for adjudication because the Employment Department has to determine if they meet the legal requirements to get regular unemployment benefits;
  3. They are out of work due to a COVID-19 qualifying reason (see full list below); AND
  4. Are likely eligible for PUA if they cannot receive regular unemployment benefits.

For now, people should continue filing their weekly claims as they have been. We will notify people who may be able to benefit from this approach.

The administrative workaround will work as follows:

  • As long as claimants qualify for PUA and file weekly regular unemployment claims, the Employment Department will pay these Oregonians their regular unemployment benefit amount until their claim is adjudicated. If, at the end of the adjudication process, it turns out that they qualified for regular unemployment benefits, nothing will change. They will keep getting regular unemployment benefits as long as they file their weekly claims and are eligible.
  • If it turns out they didn’t qualify for regular unemployment, then the Employment Department will move their claims into the PUA program. If their PUA weekly benefit amount is higher, the Employment Department will also send them the increase for all the past weeks they got the regular UI amount.
  • In the unlikely event this results in overpayment, the person would have to pay it back. 

“Benefits While You Wait” is not available to individuals having their claims reviewed because of past or current school work experience, people who need to prove they are legally authorized to work in the U.S., claimants who reported being out of their labor market at least 3.5 days during a week, and some other situations.

COVID-19 reasons you may be eligible for PUA:

  • You have been diagnosed with COVID-19. Or, you have symptoms of COVID-19 and are seeking a medical diagnosis.
  • A member of your household has been diagnosed with COVID-19.
  • You are caring for a family member or a member of your household who has been diagnosed with COVID-19.
  • Your child can’t go to school because their school is closed as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency, and you need your child to be in school for you to work.
  • A person in your household for whom you have primary caregiving responsibility can’t go to a facility for care because the facility is closed as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency, and you need them to be in facility care for you to work.
  • You can’t get to your workplace because of a quarantine imposed as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency.
  • You can’t get to your workplace because a health care provider has advised you to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19.
  • You were scheduled to start a job but you can’t start it or can’t get to it as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency.
  • You have become the main income earner for your household because the head of your household died as a direct result of COVID-19.
  • You had to quit your job as a direct result of COVID-19.
  • Your workplace is closed as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency.

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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.

MEDIA ADVISORY: Oregon Employment Department Acting Director David Gerstenfeld to hold weekly media briefing - 07/28/20

WHO:              David Gerstenfeld, Acting Director, Oregon Employment Department

WHEN:            Wed., July 29, 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., July 29 at 1:00 p.m. PT. Gerstenfeld will provide an update on unemployment claims processing progress.

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., July 29. 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: 7.29_MEdia_Availability.pdf
Statement from Oregon Employment Department Acting Director David Gerstenfeld on expiration of federal program providing extra $600 per week in unemployment benefits - 07/24/20

July 24, 2020 (Salem, Ore.) – The Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program, which was created through the passage of the federal CARES Act signed March 27, 2020 and provides an extra $600 per week to Oregonians eligible for unemployment benefits, is set to end on Saturday, July 25. Following is a statement from Oregon Employment Department Acting Director David Gerstenfeld:

We know that many Oregonians have been counting on the extra $600 per week through the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program. Since the program began on March 29, we have paid out more than $2 billion in FPUC benefits, so this is going to have a significant impact on Oregon families and communities. Just last week, the Department paid the extra $600 to more than 130,000 Oregonians, and that doesn’t include some Oregonians whose claims have not yet been processed.

We want to be sure Oregonians know what to expect, and also want them to know about additional resources available to them to supplement the $600 weekly loss in benefits. Here is what you need to know if you have already been receiving those benefits or are waiting for your benefits to be paid:

  • Every Oregonian who was eligible for regular unemployment benefits or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) benefits between March 29 and July 25 is also eligible for the extra $600 per week during that period.
  • When you file a claim after July 25, you will still get your regular unemployment benefits or PUA benefits for each week you are eligible, and if you file a weekly claim. You will no longer get the extra $600 each week.
  • If you haven’t yet been paid for weeks between March 29 and July 25, you will still get the extra $600 per week for those weeks once your claim is processed, for all weeks you were eligible.

We want every Oregonian to know about all benefits available to them. Unemployed Oregonians may also qualify for help paying for rent, utilities, food, healthcare, and more—especially now that the extra $600 per week is ending. We encourage you to visit 211info.org or call 211 to learn what benefits might be available to you. Free interpretation is provided.

We are grateful to our Congressional delegation for pushing hard to bring this extra relief to so many Oregonians. We know it has helped thousands of Oregon families who haven’t been able to return to work. We are frustrated that getting Oregonians the benefits they deserve has not been easy. We are making progress, and we know there’s a lot more work to do. 

We hope that Congress will quickly pass additional measures to extend the program or come up with a solution that is able to be easily implemented so Oregonians can get more relief—and quickly. If they do, we will see how the legislation will impact Oregonians and share that information with you as quickly as we can.

For more information on unemployment benefits in Oregon, visit unemployment.oregon.gov. Oregonians can also call 211 or go to 211info.org to find additional resources to help cover the cost of housing, health care, food, utility bills and other costs. 

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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: David_statement_on_FPUC_FINAL.pdf
Oregon Employment Department Acting Director David Gerstenfeld to hold Weekly Media Briefing - 07/21/20

WHO:              David Gerstenfeld, Acting Director, Oregon Employment Department

WHEN:            Wed., July 22, 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., July 22 at 1:00 p.m. PT. Gerstenfeld will provide an update on unemployment claims processing progress, as well as the new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance form for submitting initial and weekly claims.

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., July 22. 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: 7.22_Media_availability_FINAL.pdf
New Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Online Form Speeds up Claims for Self-Employed Oregonians - 07/17/20

July 17, 2020 (Salem, Ore.)—Today the Oregon Employment Department, in partnership with Google, launched a new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) online form that will make it easier for Oregonians to apply. The form will also allow the more than 100,000 mostly self-employed Oregonians who have applied for PUA to get their weekly benefit payments faster.

“When I took on this role, I made fixing the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance application issue a top priority because we knew it was impacting our ability to get claims processed quickly,” said David Gerstenfeld, acting director of the Oregon Employment Department. “Although the PUA program was set up in just under a month, the temporary solution, a PDF application, was cumbersome and prone to errors. This new form will fix many of the previous issues and help get benefits into the hands of Oregonians more quickly.”

The three major improvements are:

  • Speeding up weekly benefit processing. People seeking PUA benefits are required to submit a weekly certification to get benefits. Automating the weekly certification process will help get them processed faster and more accurately. The previous highly manual process was time- and resource-intensive and meant weeks of delays.
  • Improved submission success. The fully automated form will ensure applications are received with complete information, which will speed up claims processing. The temporary PDF solution meant that some forms were mistakenly being submitted blank.
  • Ensuring all required information is complete prior to submission. The form will give a warning notifying people that the information is required. This change will help us process claims faster and reduce delays in Oregonians receiving benefits due to missing information. Important information, such as the COVID-19 reason that makes an applicant eligible for PUA, is required, but has often been missing or left blank on the PDF forms.

People should resubmit their weekly claims through the new form if they have not already been paid for those weeks, though they do not have to. Doing so will speed up how quickly they get their benefits, and will let claims specialists focus on claims for people who have not yet received their benefits.

“This is an encouraging step forward for Oregonians who’ve been waiting for benefits, as well as for the Department. I am pleased we have made these changes and pledge that we will continue finding better ways to serve you,” Gerstenfeld said.

The Department is committed to ensuring equity for all Oregonians and will be translating the application into 15 different languages. Those translated applications will be available in the next week.  

In addition to the new application, the Department launched a new informational website on July 10, unemployment.oregon.gov, which will also be available in 15 languages in the coming weeks. The application and the website are part of the Department’s efforts to significantly improve the overall customer service experience and improve the speed at which claims can be processed. 

PUA applications, also known as initial claims, will still need to be reviewed by a claims specialist; that will now be easier to do. Claims require review to ensure applicants are eligible under the federal CARES Act and to determine a person’s weekly benefit amount. Weekly PUA claims filed through the new online form will auto-process, sending a person either the $205 per week minimum benefit, or a higher weekly benefit amount--up to a maximum of $648 per week.

To get more than $205 per week, a person must have earned more than $16,480 in the 2019 tax year. They have to provide proof of income for their most recently completed tax year (2019 for most people). A PUA benefits calculator can be found here.

Oregonians who are applying for or receiving benefits can access the new PUA online claim form by going to the Employment Department’s Online Claim System and clicking on the blue “Pandemic Unemployment Assistance” button--the same place they went previously to upload their PDF claim forms.

People can continue submitting their initial application and weekly certifications by PDF upload, mail, fax or phone if they wish. These will take longer to process than the online claim form.

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Our Vision: An Oregon where meaningful work enables the state’s diverse people and businesses to realize their full potential, creating prosperity in every community.

 

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: 7.15_Media_availability_FINAL.pdf
Oregon Employment Department Acting Director David Gerstenfeld to hold weekly media briefing - 07/14/20

WHO:              David Gerstenfeld, Acting Director, Oregon Employment Department

WHEN:            Wed., July 15, 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., July 15 at 1:00 p.m. PT. Gerstenfeld will provide an update on unemployment claim processing for regular unemployment, the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program, and Work Share, as well as the expiration of the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program, staffing and continued efforts to improve the customer service experience.

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., July 15. 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: 7.15_Media_availability_FINAL.pdf
Oregon Recovers Nearly One-Third of COVID-19 Job Losses - 07/14/20

Oregon’s total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 56,600 jobs in June, following a gain of 26,100 jobs in May. Over the past two months, employers added back nearly one-third of the jobs that were cut in March and April.

Over-the-month job gains in June were largest in leisure and hospitality (+31,400 jobs); retail trade (+6,800); health care and social assistance (+6,200); and other services (+5,700). None of the major industries cut a substantial number of jobs in June.

Several major industries have regained around half the jobs they lost in March and April. Leisure and hospitality added a total of 47,600 jobs in May and June, which was 39 percent of the 121,500 jobs the industry cut during March and April. Health care and social assistance added 15,700 jobs in May and June, recovering 59 percent of the 26,800 jobs it lost the prior two months. Similarly, retail trade bounced back by 11,500 jobs, or 49 percent, in the past two months, from the 23,300 jobs it shed in March and April.

However, many of the larger industries haven’t seen a substantial rebound in the past two months, including professional and business services, which cut 20,200 jobs in March and April, but has only regained 1,900 jobs during May and June. Fairing even worse were the several industries that have shown no net jobs recovery over the past two months. Manufacturing employed 181,000 in June, which was 2,400 jobs below its April total. Also in the past two months, government cut 9,100 jobs between April and June, during which time management of companies and enterprises cut 1,000 jobs and information cut 600 jobs.

Oregon’s unemployment rate dropped to 11.2 percent in June from 14.3 percent, as revised, in May. In June, Oregon’s unemployment rate was very close to the U.S. unemployment rate; the U.S. rate dropped to 11.1 percent in June from 13.3 percent in May.

 

Next Press Releases

The Oregon Employment Department plans to release the June county and metropolitan area unemployment rates on Tuesday, July 21st, and the next statewide unemployment rate and employment survey data for July on Tuesday, August 18th.

The PDF version of the news release can be found at QualityInfo.org/press-release. To obtain the data in other formats such as in Excel, visit QualityInfo.org, then within the top banner, select Economic Data, then choose LAUS or CES. To request the press release as a Word document, contact the person shown at the top of this press release.

To file a claim for unemployment benefits or get more information about unemployment programs, visit unemployment.oregon.gov.

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 Launches New Informational Website to Help Oregonians Navigate Unemployment Benefits during COVID-19 Pandemic - 07/10/20

July 10, 2020 (Salem, Ore.)—The Oregon Employment Department launched a new informational website today aimed at improving customer service for the record number of Oregonians applying for and receiving unemployment benefits.

The new site, unemployment.oregon.gov, is designed to help Oregonians more easily find information on: the new programs created by the CARES Act, whether they might qualify for unemployment benefits, how to apply, and what’s different during the pandemic.

“We’ve heard the many Oregonians who’ve said we need to do a better job communicating about their benefits and the unemployment claims process,” said David Gerstenfeld, acting director of the Oregon Employment Department. “Our goal with this new website is to provide clear information so people can file their claims, avoid unnecessary delays, and get their questions answered without having to call us,” he said. “We know that ultimately Oregonians need their claims processed, but we also want to ease some of the communication frustrations people have experienced.”

Over the next few days and weeks, the Department will add more content and features to the informational website. Highlights of the current site include:

  • A Contact Us form to assist Oregonians who have been waiting the longest to have their claims resolved
  • Information about new federal CARES Act benefit programs        
  • An Eligibility Quiz to help people figure out which program to apply for
  • Step-by-step videos and guides for how to apply for regular Unemployment Insurance (UI) and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) benefits
  • Resources for employers about the Work Share program, reopening business, and more
  • Other resources available to Oregonians while they wait for unemployment benefits, such as benefits to help with rent, utilities, health coverage, or groceries
  • A robust section of Frequently Asked Questions, which will be updated weekly as new questions arise

In March, high traffic to the Department’s oregon.gov/employ site risked crashing all oregon.gov sites, so the Department’s COVID-19 content was moved to a temporary website commonly used by agencies during crises. The limitations of the content management system of the temporary website made information difficult to find. As one of his first steps as Acting Director, Gerstenfeld initiated the development of a cleaner, simpler, more user-friendly site. Some of the content on unemployment.oregon.gov existed on the old COVID-19 site, but much of it is brand new.

“I’ve made doing a better job of communicating with Oregonians a top priority,” said Gerstenfeld. “We believe this website is a much-needed step in the right direction, and we appreciate your patience as we continue to make this a better experience for you.”

The website underwent usability testing by the Department’s Equity Council, partners, and claimants who have had challenges applying for unemployment benefits from both the regular UI and PUA programs. Improvements are ongoing.

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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 - 07/07/20

WHO:              David Gerstenfeld, Acting Director, Oregon Employment Department

WHEN:            Wed., July 8, 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., July 8 at 1:00 p.m. PT. Gerstenfeld will provide an update on the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program claims processing as well as several other updates about the customer service experience.

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., July 8. 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: 7.8_Media_AvailabilityFINAL.pdf