Each of Oregon's 36 counties saw gains in employment in August. (Courtesy/Oregon Employment Department)

In a sign that the local economy is recovering from the pandemic, the Salem area saw its unemployment rate drop for the fourth straight month.

The Salem area’s unemployment was 7.3% for August, according to numbers released by the Oregon Employment Department on Tuesday. That’s down from 9.7% in July and 10.3% in June. However, it’s still higher than the 4% the area had when the pandemic hit.

Salem saw its unemployment rate soar to 15% in April as a result of Covid restrictions that shut down much of the economy. In May, the unemployment rate began its decline when it dropped to 13%.

Statewide, the unemployment rate is slightly higher at 7.7% for August. Oregon has seen similar drops in employment and recorded 10.4% in July.

According to the Employment Department, nearly every industry in the private sector in the Salem area showed growth in August. 

Trade, transportation,and utilities employment increased 700 in August. Construction added 100 jobs. Government added 800 jobs, with local government education accounting for 600 of those jobs.

Covid restrictions have had a particular effect on the leisure and hospitality industry, which hemorrhaged jobs during state stay-home orders. In previous months, leisure and hospitality saw the largest employment gains as the state began gradually reopening. 

But in August, the industry added back just 100 jobs in the Salem area.

All of Oregon’s 36 counties saw decreases in their unemployment rates. Lincoln County saw the largest decrease at nearly 5 percentage points. Multnomah and Jefferson counties had the highest unemployment rates at 9.7% and 9.1% respectively.

Wheeler County had the lowest unemployment rate at 4.4%, followed by Morrow and Benton at 5.2% and 5.7% respectively.

Mario and Polk counties had unemployment rates of 6.8% and 6.7% respectively.

Contact reporter Jake Thomas at 503-575-1251 or [email protected] or @jakethomas2009.

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