Economist says there are several reasons why people aren’t coming back to work

MEDFORD, Ore. – It’s been over a year since COVID-19 made a mark on the Oregon economy. Now many businesses, like restaurants, are looking to hire. However, many businesses told NBC5 News they’re having a hard time filling positions.

“I think people come back into the service industry thinking that it’s gonna be the same as it was before. And we’re all just trying to figure it out,” said Julia Roland

Roland is the shift manager at Brother’s in Ashland.  She said hiring’s been a struggle.

“We’ve got great staff, the ones that have come back. And then some new ones. But it’s been very challenging trying to find people,” said Roland.

She’s not alone, the owner of Sweet Tea Express, Greg Cordova has never been busier. Yet even with competitive wages and add-on bonuses for select positions, he said he’s never seen anything like it.

“Thirty-eight years in the business and I can’t remember a time when I had somebody accept a job on Friday and not show up for the first position on a Monday. In the last 30 days, it’s happened about 6 or 7 times,” said Cordova.

University of Oregon Economics Professor Tim Duy said this isn’t just a Rogue Valley issue or an Oregon issue, it’s a nationwide problem.

“Employers are finding themselves in this at least hopefully temporary situation where the demand for services and goods came back so quickly they’re not able to staff up as quickly to meet that demand,” said Duy.

Duy also said with national chains increasing wages small businesses could get squeezed.

“That’s creating a lot of upward pressure on wages. To balance that supply and demand out,” said Duy.

While Duy said unemployment benefits play a factor in people not going back to work it’s not the only one.

“I don’t want to blame all of these factors just on unemployment insurance, I think there are other factors at play. If school is open fully in the fall if the pandemic is under control,” said Duy.

Both Brother’s and Sweet Tea Express are currently hiring.  If you’re 16 or older looking for experience contact the restaurants.

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