Grants Pass, Ore. -- Employers across the region are struggling to hire enough qualified employees to sustain their businesses.
Recent data from the Oregon Employment Department shows that underlying wage growth remains in-line with pre-covid trends.
This is in addition to Oregon job openings having returned to pre-pandemic levels, indicating businesses are not responding to the pandemic recession as if there is a surplus of available workers.
What the current unemployment rate excludes is would-be workers who are out of the labor force. This means that people under this category neither have a job, nor are they looking for one.
An estimated 45,000 people in Oregon said they were prevented from looking for work due to Covid-related reasons during the first quarter of 2021.
Ryan Fleming is the owner of Flespy’s Bar & Grill in Grants Pass. He says he is exploring different forms of advertising to get out the word that his restaurant is hiring. Fleming attributes some struggles to getting people back at work to the lack of available child care.
“It's impossible to try to home school your kids while you have full time job. Lucky enough over here, we all of have worked together to kind of help each other, enough to keep all of our staff. We are still looking for cooks at the moment.”
Fleming says a lot more goes into hiring struggles, beyond people wanting to collect unemployment benefits.
According to research from the Office of Economic Analysis, heading into the pandemic, one out of every six Oregonians in the labor force had kids, worked in an occupation that cannot be done remotely, and also did not have another non-working adult present in the household.
Oregon Employment Departments’ regional economist, Guy Tauer says, "In terms of the difficulty in filling positions, it's hard to say if demand for labor continues to outstrip the supply of people looking for work, then the tight labor market could continue even past the fall.”
Researchers say, employers will need to continue to cast a wider net, and dig deeper in their resume stack to attract and retain workers, just as they were doing pre-pandemic.