Local News That Matters

Willamette president to speak March 19 on higher education during a pandemic

March 16, 2021 at 4:33pm

Oregon's unemployment rate declines — but not by much

Bob Herman, owner of Lady's Choice Jewelry, sets up a display of his work at Taproot Lounge and Cafe on Thursday, Dec. 10. With indoor seating at the restaurant currently closed, Taproot has allowed local artists and businesses to set up small displays of their offerings on the tables, booths and bar. (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)

Oregon’s unemployment rate declined slightly in February to 6.1% from 6.2% in January. 

The reduction in the unemployment rate is less pronounced than the plummet that took place between May and November as pandemic restrictions were eased and jobs added back. However, the rate ticked up in December after Gov. Kate Brown imposed new restrictions. 

Oregon added 13,900 nonfarm jobs in February, according to the state Employment Department. Nearly all of the jobs (11,100) were in the state’s leisure and hospitality industry, which has borne the brunt of the pandemic-induced downturn. 

The state has largely tracked the national unemployment rate. The U.S. unemployment rate was 6.2% in February, down from 6.3% in January.

-Jake Thomas

March 16, 2021 at 12:18pm

State of the County address Wednesday will highlight Covid response, wildfires

Colm Willis, Marion County commissioner, speaks during a north county special meeting concerning COVID-19 response on May 5, 2020. (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)

The Marion County commissioners are virtually presenting the annual State of the County address at noon on Wednesday.

Sign up here.

Commissioners Colm Willis and Kevin Cameron will highlight issues such as the county's Covid response, wildfire recovery and introduce a new face after Danielle Bethell was elected to the board in November.

The event is free but people need to pre-register. A moderated Q and A session will follow the address.

-Saphara Harrell

March 16, 2021 at 12:07pm

Willamette president to speak March 19 on "State of Higher Education"

Willamette University President Steve Thorsett speaks at the 2019 kick-off for a university match program for Oregon College Savings Plan account holders (Rachel Alexander/Salem Reporter)

Steve Thorsett, president of Willamette University, will address Salem City Club March 19 about how the university is faring and broader trends in higher education.

Willamette has seen declining enrollment since 2015, with a substantial drop this fall to about 1,300 undergraduate students, down from 1,600. Those declines mirror national trends as the number of young adults in the U.S. has stopped growing and the rising cost of college tuition continues to outpace growth in family income.

Thorsett's talk, "The State of Higher Education," will address the economic and demographic challenges facing American colleges and universities, and small liberal arts schools like Willamette in particular. He will also speak about Willamette's current state, how it's surviving the pandemic and the university's financial and academic future.

The talk will be held on Zoom at 12 p.m. March 19, and preregistration is required. Attendance is free for City Club members and $5 for non-members. More information on the talk and registration instructions are available here.

-Rachel Alexander