BEND, OR -- Central Oregon workers are in high demand, this summer; help wanted signs appear in many windows and some places are making changes to accommodate fewer employees. Baldy's Barbeque, for example, shortened their hours and stopped serving breakfast because they lack adequate staff.
Regional Economist Damon Runberg says says there aren't a lot of niche jobs available, but low-skilled, seasonal labor opportunities abound, "Most are entry-level positions - leisure, hospitality, restaurants, hotels, etc. - and they're just having a straight-up 'warm body' issue. They can't find enough people to fill those jobs where typical, minimum-wage jobs are paying $4, $5 over the minimum wage."
Central Oregon's historically low unemployment rate didn't budge in June, while the hiring rate was consistent with annual averages, "The hiring pattern we saw in June was the typical construction jobs, tourism jobs. It's like you have that really rapid pace of seasonal hiring in the background of this bigger labor constraint that we've been in over the last couple of years." Deschutes County's unemployment rate for June was 3.9% with 1,410 jobs added; Crook County's rate dropped slightly to 5.4% with 190 jobs added and Jefferson County added 120 jobs last month, while the jobless rate dropped a tenth of a point from May, to 5%.
Runberg tells KBND News, Runberg says we've reached the stage in the economic recovery where there are more jobs than jobseekers, and there's no easy solution, "Expanding the labor supply is the answer, but it's not like there's a glut of unemployed people out there where there's this mismatch. Most people who are in the labor force today are employed." But, he says, help should be coming in the future, "The education community that we have: COCC, OSU Cascades, these are all positive, long-term things that will help create a more diverse and larger, educated workforce. But these are not things that are going to help us this summer."