SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Numbers released Tuesday show Oregon’s unemployment rate soared to a “catastrophic” 14.2% in April, marking the deepest recession the state has experienced since it began keeping records in 1939.

The number of unemployed Oregonians rose by 227,530 to reach 300,420 in April. The state lost 266,600 jobs in the first two months of the coronavirus pandemic, going from a near-record-low unemployment rate of 3.5% in March to the current high. The leisure and hospitality industry took the biggest hit and lost 54% of its jobs within a month.

Still, the massive job losses don’t fully reflect the impact on the economy of the statewide stay-at-home orders issued by Gov. Kate Brown to slow the spread of the disease, said Anna Johnson, a senior analyst with the Oregon Employment Department.

“While these numbers make for shocking historical records, they cannot totally capture the economic trauma so many Oregonians are experiencing at this time,” Johnson said.

Other industries hit hardest in April were health care and social assistance, retail, professional and business services and government jobs.

The U.S. unemployment rate rose from 4.4% in March to 14.7% in April.


The next statewide unemployment figures will be released June 16 and will cover job losses in May.

More than 3,725 people in Oregon have tested positive for COVID-19 and at least 140 Oregonians have died from the disease, according to the Oregon Health Authority. Two additional deaths were reported Tuesday involving a 70-year-old woman in Umatilla County and a 69-year-old man in Linn County. Both had underlying medical conditions, the authority said.

The virus causes mild to moderate symptoms in most patients, and the vast majority recover. But it is highly contagious and can cause severe illness and death in some patients, particularly the elderly and those with underlying health conditions.