▶️ Local employers struggling to hire amongst low unemployment rate

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Unemployment numbers are low in the high desert, but job openings aren’t.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for Bend and Redmond is stabilizing at around 4%: a low for the area.

However, the Oregon Employment Department reported that the amount of recovered and added jobs since the end of the pandemic is leading to many openings, with not many applicants to fill them.

“A lot of employers are desperately needing people locally,” said Forrest Smith, a member of the Business Service Team for WorkSource Bend.

This afternoon we found yet another job fair in downtown Bend, with 30 local businesses searching for employees.

“It’s been really difficult,” said Whitney Eskelson, the Head of Program for the Boys and Girls Club of Central Oregon.

The Boys and Girls Club of Central Oregon says four candidates had applied, when I visited them halfway through the job fair, not nearly enough to fill their available positions.

“It’s hard to compete as a non-profit,” Eskelson said.

It’s also hard for for-profit businesses with Sunriver Resort searching for over 80 employees.

“And we’re finding that we get a decent amount of applicants, but getting them to call us back and following up for interviews has been difficult,” said Danielle Patrick, the Human Resources Coordinator, for Sunriver Resort.

They said a big problem regarding recruitment has been affordable housing, with many out of town applicants requesting on-site accommodations.

“There’s a lot of job availability so employers really have to search and be what the applicant is looking for,” Patrick said.

The same pressures are hurting for businesses not at today’s job fair too.

Hablo Tacos is offering upwards of $26 an hour for line cooks and $24 an hour for dishwashers.

They tell me they’re still facing trouble recruiting people that want to work in the food industry.

However, for workers, this surplus of jobs is a prime opportunity to snatch up benefits.

“You have more potential to find something in an area where you better serve the community and yourself,” said Marie Perez, an attendee at the job fair looking for work.

Every employer I spoke with at that job fair, told me they’ve attended multiple events for new hires.

WorkSource Bend tells me they’ll be holding more hiring events in the future.

Though job fairs can’t fix what the Oregon Employment Department is calling a “labor desert”.

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