Salem area unemployment rate increased in December

Larry Alexander, of Salem, places an order with server Jessica Strong at Wild Pear Restaurant on Wednesday, September 30. (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)

The unemployment rate in the Salem area rose last month following the rest of the state, according to numbers released Tuesday by the Oregon Employment Department.

In December, the unemployment rate for the Salem area was 6.3%, an increase from November’s rate of 5.9%. Statewide, the unemployment rate for December was 6.4%, up from November’s 6%.

In April, Salem and the rest of the state saw historic job losses as the pandemic took hold. Since then, the unemployment rate has steadily ticked downward until rising in December. As Covid transmissions spiked, Gov. Kate Brown issued new restrictions in November that limited restaurants to takeout and closed gyms.

According to the Employment Department, the losses in the Salem area in December were larger than normally expected. The area lost 2,600 jobs when typically a loss of 1,400 would be expected.

Like the rest of the state, the leisure and hospitality industry in the Salem area saw the biggest job losses during this period, shedding 1,300 positions.

Jobs classified as trade, transportation and utilities saw the biggest gains in the Salem area, adding 200 positions.

-Jake Thomas