As Oregon enters freeze, economists 'hold their breath'

The employment department says they're much better equipped to handle unemployment claims during the freeze than they were in spring.

Posted: Nov 18, 2020 5:48 PM
Updated: Nov 18, 2020 6:15 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- Local and state economists say they're "holding their breath" during this two-week freeze, unsure if businesses will be allowed to reopen in 14 days and worried they may never reopen if the freeze lasts much longer. 

"We're going to be feeling the impacts of this shutdown and this virus overall for months to come," said Brittany Quick-Warner, Eugene's Chamber of Commerce president.

She added that restaurants are suffering the consequences of a situation they aren't responsible for. 

"The data that we're seeing does not indicate that restaurants are necessarily responsible for the spread of coronavirus," she said.

So how can you help?

Quick-Warner said Thanksgiving is next week and Christmas is around the corner. Business agree there's one thing you can do to make a difference.

"Make a point to shop local," said Quick-Warner.

The Eugene Chamber of Commerce even has a holiday gift guide on their website with resources and places to find what you're looking for this holiday season.

Oregon Employment Department Director David Gerstenfeld said they are far more equipped to handle the influx of claims he anticipates they'll be receiving this go-around. 

Back in the spring, 285,000 Oregonians lost their jobs and there were only 275 people working in the OED office to process those unemployment claims. Today there are 1,200 people processing claims.  They also have increased their infrastructure. According to Gerstenfeld, they have two new call centers in operation. 

He also said the OED website is better equipped with tools and resources for people including an option to restart an old claim. 

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