The Douglas County Board of Commissioners wants Gov. Kate Brown to consider halting the COVID-19 pandemic’s enhanced unemployment benefits.
In a letter to the governor last week, the commissioners argued that local businesses are having trouble finding the workforce they need to fill the jobs they have available. According to the commissioners, unemployment benefits are to blame.
Many businesses have closed or shortened hours due to a lack of willing workers, the commissioners said.
That’s also costing the state, the commissioners argued, because payroll taxes are lost and extra money spent on the benefits.
They wrote that a study by the Southern Oregon Workforce Investment Board found that employers would have to start workers at $19 per hour for a 40-hour work week to match the pandemic benefits recipients are receiving to stay at home.
The commissioners referred to the Open Air Job Fair, held earlier this month, and said 28 businesses were seeking employees for 438 open positions. A total of 150 job seekers attended the event, they said.
Having only one-third the number of job seekers as job openings leaves local employers feeling helpless, they wrote.
“This is a no-brainer,” the commissioners wrote. “There should be no incentives to keep people from working while there are jobs to be had.”