Regional News

OR Employment Dept. To Lose 200 Temp Workers

SALEM, OR -- After processing a record number of unemployment claims in 2020 and 2021, a large number of workers at Oregon’s Employment Department will soon be out of a job. In 2020, The Employment Department handled a 1,400% increase in benefits compared to the previous year. Complaints of slow processing and confusing requirements prompted the agency to shift some staff and hire short-term contractors to help with the immense workload. 

OED Acting Director David Gerstenfeld says the agency commonly hires temporary workers, "But, because we hired so many people during the COVID-19 pandemic to help meet the unprecedented needs of Oregonians at the time, and because of our current funding situation, we have a large number of positions ending at once. Unfortunately, our federal funding levels are not sufficient and have significantly declined."

At a press conference this week, he told reporters, "At the end of September, about 200 limited-duration contracted staff will be leaving the Employment Department because their assignments and contracts are coming to an end."

He says the people leaving helped with everything from processing claims to client outreach, "These team members, along with our regular permanent staff in Unemployment Insurance and other parts of the agency, were instrumental in providing much-needed unemployment insurance benefits and other services to record-setting numbers of people during the COVID-19 pandemic."

The agency says it's helping them find new jobs. 

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