PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) – A report released this month by the Oregon Employment Department highlights the impact the pandemic has had on Oregon’s leisure and hospitality industry. The report shows the pandemic wiped out 25-years of jobs gains in the sector.
The report says since spring 2020, mandated closures or curtailments for entire business categories as well as changing consumer spending patterns in response to the pandemic resulted in massive and ongoing job loss.
According to OED, from December 2019 to December 2020 the leisure and hospitality sector lost 38.7% of payroll employment, compared with a loss of 9.1% across all Oregon industries. Leisure and hospitality had 211,000 jobs in December of 2019 and by December 2020 employment fell to 129,400, essentially erasing the industry’s previous 25 years of job gains. The report goes on to read that of the 178,200 payroll jobs Oregon lost during that time, 81,600 of those, or 46.9%, were in the leisure and hospitality sector.
In Northwest Portland, the impact of the pandemic is being felt. Phil Geffner is the owner of Escape From New York Pizza. He says the last year has been a challenging one.
“This year is like no other, we’re trying to keep people together, while keeping them apart,” Geffner said. “We are looking forward to, like you know, things getting back to normal, we sure are.”
The pizzeria has been a Portland staple for 38 years. The last year for Geffner has been the most challenging. He says they have kept the business open, even through the snow and ice this winter. Geffner adds they haven’t laid anyone off and have just kept going.
“It gives people, like I said, a little sense of normalcy, when they could do something like they used to do and come to some place that they used to come to, and something stays consistent in their life and that is really good,” Geffner said.
As businesses and the industry as a whole look to the future, things are already in the works to help boost that sector of the economy that has been hit so hard.
“Certainly we have seen in Portland the devastation COVID-19 has caused and our businesses are suffering, our hotels in particular are suffering but we are looking forward to a brighter future,” Jeff Miller, the CEO of Travel Portland said.
The tourism organization is working on several projects to bring life and revenue back into the city.
“We just launched a patio guide for dining in Portland. We are getting ready to launch in April an online travel agency promotions so we are getting ready to invite guests back to do all the amazing things in Portland,” Miller said.
For Geffner, they are going to keep pushing forward, making pie after pie and trying to bring some normalcy back to this part of Portland.
“I am hopeful that it can get back to some sense of normalcy and people could appreciate more of what they have because of what was taken away from them, you know it is like that,” Geffner said.
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