Oregon Tribe suffers 63% unemployment

Have you ever wondered what the United States, or any particular state, county, or city, would look like and what life would be like if it suffered from 63% unemployment?

The Portland Oregonian reported today that the Warm Springs Indian Reservation is currently facing a 63% unemployment rate.

September’s rate of 63% – is actually an improvement from 70% in May.

Joblessness among 18- to 25-year-olds on the central Oregon reservation stands at 79%, says Marcia Soliz, the tribal official who gathers the data. Soliz counts every adult without a job as unemployed, whereas Oregon is more selective in extrapolating the state’s 11.3% unemployment rate.

Sky-high joblessness exacerbates crime and health problems. The tribal population of 4,000 swells as those who lose jobs elsewhere move back to the reservation, overloading cramped housing.

Depression, domestic violence, child abuse and narcotics use – already high – have risen further, says Caroline Cruz, tribal-government general manager for health and human services. “Every place you turn, you could explain the conditions because of the high unemployment rate,” Cruz says. “It’s a vicious cycle.”

Some tribal citizens say that conditions are worse than during the 1980s recession. Mike Clements, the tribal government’s human relations director and former head of economic development agrees. “I still recall that the 28 percent number for unemployment is what we used in those days,” Clements says. “Seventy percent, that’s the highest level I’ve ever heard.”

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