50,000 Oregonians working in hospitality have lost their jobs, with more likely as a result of ‘freeze’

PORTLAND, Ore. — On Nov. 18, the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis released its 2020 Economic and Revenue Forecast, which showed the hospitality sector has been hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The report states demand and revenue for Oregon’s restaurants, brewpubs, wineries and bars are down more than 50% and the leisure and hospitality sector will have lost 50,000 jobs in 2020, far more than any other sector — and that doesn’t include the impact of the latest “freeze” on restaurant, bar and tasting room service. 

Below is a statement from the Oregon Beverage Alliance:

“Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Oregon was home to 400 breweries, 900 wineries, 1,200 vineyards, 100 cideries, more than 50 distilleries, 73 distributors, 10,000 restaurants and 37,200 farms, creating thousands of good-paying jobs and several billion dollars in wages. Many of those jobs are now at risk or have been lost. We’ve also been hit hard by the unprecedented wildfires this fall.

“The state’s own Economic and Revenue Forecast showed the hospitality sector has been hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic with 50,000 jobs lost and the true economic harm of additional closures won’t be known for months. In order to survive, Oregon’s breweries, wineries, cideries, distillers, tasting rooms, restaurants and bars need the support of our elected officials. As our businesses and employees face these brutal realities, we hope the governor will lift the ‘freeze’ at least on tastings and outdoor dining and state legislators will resist any attempt to add to the misery by saddling us with cumbersome new taxes. That’s the last thing our homegrown businesses need right now.”

Despite this economic report highlighting the devastating blows experienced by beer, wine, cider, spirits, tasting rooms, bars, restaurants and the hospitality sectors, lawmakers continue to issue restaurant, bar and tasting room closures and are considering proposals to raise taxes on these struggling local businesses.

On Nov. 13, Governor Kate Brown announced restaurants, bars and tasting rooms would be limited to take-out only through at least Dec. 2 — at least until Dec. 17 in Multnomah County — as part of a minimum two-week “freeze” to address another COVID-19 case spike in several counties. The report admits it doesn’t account for this latest round of closures, which are expected to cause more job losses. 

Sadly, earlier this year the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) released a budget proposal for the next biennium budget that would have raised $293 million from new beer, wine and cider taxes. The OHA proposal would result in an unprecedented 800% tax increase on Oregon’s brewers, winemakers, cideries and consumers at a time when people are struggling with the COVID-19 closures. Tax increases only make it harder for these businesses to invest in rehiring, equipment, upgrades and expansion, and will result in higher prices for consumers.

Oregonians also overwhelmingly voted to fund OHA and addiction recovery through Ballot Measure 110, making it unnecessary to raise taxes on Oregon’s local beer, wine, cider, spirits and hospitality businesses. Oregon already has some of the highest alcohol prices in the country. And Oregon’s beer, wine, cider and spirits sectors are the third largest source of revenue for the state — behind income taxes and the state lottery.


About the Oregon Beverage Alliance 

The Oregon Beverage Alliance is made up of local brewers, winemakers, cidermakers, distillers and their supply and hospitality partners creating hundreds of thousands of jobs. Learn more: www.DontTaxMyDrink.org