SALEM — When the coronavirus shutdown hit Oregon in March, Oregonians closed their wallets.
Overall consumer spending fell by as much as a third as the state hunkered down to ride out the pandemic. Spending in a few categories, like transportation and restaurants, nearly stopped, according to data from Opportunity Insights, a Harvard-based economic research team. Spending levels have broadly recovered in the intervening months, despite an enormous spike in unemployment — the state’s jobless rate was 11.2% in June. Spending has been helped along by stimulus payments and supercharged unemployment benefits. Oregon has paid out $3.2 billion in jobless claims during the pandemic, even though tens of thousands are still waiting for their money.
As of mid-July, Oregon consumer spending was off just 7% compared to January.
That spending isn’t being distributed evenly, though.
Opportunity Insights estimates that transportation, entertainment and restaurant spending in Oregon are all down more than 40% from January.
Health care and apparel spending have largely rebounded, meanwhile, and grocery spending — which spiked as much as 60% during the panic buying that accompanied the early days of the pandemic in March — remains up 13%.
Opportunity Insights’ national data show Oregon has closely tracked national patterns.
“Most Americans believe that the impact of the crisis on their routines and personal finances will last beyond the next four months. This sentiment has made consumers evaluate what they are spending on and where more carefully,” consulting firm McKinsey & Co. found in a survey released this past week.
The firm concluded that online shopping is likely to retain much of the boost it is enjoying during the pandemic, and that for the foreseeable future people are likely to focus their spending on essentials given the enduring economic uncertainty.
Oregon allowed many sectors, notably manufacturing and construction, to continue operating throughout the pandemic. And thousands of office workers continue doing their jobs from home.
But some sectors of the economy simply won’t be back until the virus is gone, the Oregon Business Plan concluded in a new report on the state’s recovery. Leisure and hospitality in particular may not have a clear path forward.