Merkley: March Jobless Numbers Underscore Urgent Need to Invest in Our Workers

Washington, DC – New jobs numbers released today show that Oregon’s unemployment rate rose from 10.7% in February to 12.1% in March.  In just nine months, Oregon’s unemployment rate has doubled, leaving tens of thousands of Oregonians out of work.

“While anyone living in Oregon knows times are tough, Oregon’s skyrocketing unemployment rate is a startling indicator of just how much our local economy is struggling and how devastating the jobs crisis is for working families,” said Merkley. We cannot ignore the magnitude of this crisis and Congress must take bold actions to help arrest the economic freefall.

“While the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is bringing much needed funding for shovel-ready and shovel-worthy projects in communities across our state, the increased job losses underscore a need for Congress to do much, much more to help our state get out of the hole we find ourselves in. That includes aggressive action to help homeowners and stabilize the housing market as well as restored oversight and regulation of financial institutions to establish clear rules of the road for lenders and unfreeze credit. As Oregon’s U.S. Senator I will do everything I can to help provide relief to unemployed Oregonians who are struggling to find work and make ends meet. If we want to turn this mess around, we must invest in our workers.”

Last month, five of Oregon’s largest private sector industries posted substantial job losses. Trade, transportation and utilities were the hardest hit, shedding 3,600 jobs. Manufacturing, construction and health care and educational services, also reported considerable losses. Currently there are over 256,000 Oregonians out of work, more than double the number of unemployed Oregonians in March of 2008.