A 'now hiring' sign outside of a Burger King on Lancaster Drive in Salem on Friday, May 28. (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)
Faced with an ongoing labor shortage, business groups in Oregon are calling on state lawmakers to create an incentive to lure unemployed Oregonians back into the workforce.
The call came in a June 2 letter sent to Gov. Kate Brown and the Oregon Legislature that was signed by 30 local chambers of commerce (including Salem’s), as well as groups like Oregon Restaurant and Lodging Association and Oregon and Manufacturers and Commerce, the Oregon Health Care Association and others.
The letter states that workplaces are safe with vaccines widely available and employers continuing to take steps to protect workers and customers.
“We are ready to get back to work, but we are having a very hard time convincing employees to join us,” the letter said.
According to the most recent jobs report from the National Federation of Independent Business, a record-high 48% of small business owners in May reported unfilled job openings. The state’s economic recovery could be stalled if the problem of finding workers isn’t resolved, the letter states.
The letter cited a recent survey by the National Governors Association that found three significant factors preventing qualified workers from returning to jobs: the extra $300 weekly payment tacked on to unemployment benefits, a lack of childcare and ongoing safety concerns.
In addition to reopening schools and expanding childcare options, the groups called on using funds from the most recent stimulus measure to create an incentive program to encourage workers to take a job instead of continuing to collect unemployment benefits.
"A modest return-to-work bonus may tip the balance for an out-of-work Oregonian deciding whether to stay home or move back to a job," the letter reads. "This can't wait."