The Hospitality Industry In Oregon Still Lacks Thousands Of Workers And Jobs Despite Some Economic Gains

Oregon’s economy has regained every job it lost as a result of the epidemic, recovering from record layoffs much more quickly than it did during previous recessions. But in some businesses, particularly in the hospitality industry, the recovery has been far slower.

About 12,000 fewer people work in hotels, restaurants, and bars now than they did before the outbreak, a 6% decrease. Employers continue to struggle to fill shifts providing takeaway, tending bars, and waiting tables.

However, unemployment is at an all-time low, and the unemployment benefits from the epidemic have long since run out. So where did the employees of the hotels and restaurants go?

In order to determine this, economist Damon Runberg analyzed the figures for the Oregon Employment Department.

Runberg discovered that the hospitality sector still employs by far the largest group using wage data and unemployment insurance claims. However, thousands of additional bar and restaurant employees left for positions in other sectors, including in retail, healthcare, and business services.

These occupations frequently offer higher compensation and more regular hours than those in pubs, restaurants, and hotels. Additionally, due to the severe labor shortage in Oregon, employees inevitably flocked to the finest employment prospects. Runberg discovered that the migration from the hotel sector to other industries has sped up since the outbreak.

Curiously, between the beginning of 2020 and the end of 2021, the number of Oregon hospitality workers on the unemployment registers doubled. Despite the fact that the total unemployment rate in Oregon is now hanging at a record low of 4.0%.

Lincoln County lost 4,880 jobs when the epidemic struck in April 2020, and the county’s employment level is still 780 jobs below what it was in August 2019 before the outbreak.

The most plausible explanation, according to Runberg, is that establishments were cutting personnel last fall β€” the most recent time period for which he has data β€” when a new wave of infections caused by extremely contagious COVID-19 mutations emerged. Given that the hospitality industry has expanded at a 9.9% annual rate over the past year, that may have been a fleeting phenomenon.

Certainly, not all of the absent hospitality workers are due to unemployment. More than 20% of those surveyed by Runberg had no employment at all in Oregon.

Oregon Still Lacks Thousands Of Workers And Jobs
Oregon Still Lacks Thousands Of Workers And Jobs

Where is this enigma? 1 in 5 employees in Oregon has vanished from our records of employment. We have no idea, said Runberg. Some may have relocated to a different state, retired, or passed away.

Importantly, however, the percentage of hospitality employees who completely left the Oregon labor force was roughly equal to the number who departed during a comparable period prior to the epidemic. That implies that the majority of people continued to work, even if they left their hospitality jobs.

When Runberg adds up the modifications, he realizes there is no one solution to the mystery of the missing service personnel. Instead, a variety of causes, like people, moving, taking up new employment, or quitting labor entirely, are at play.

Runberg also believes that there may be another element, not included in the data, that contributes to the labor shortage in the hotel industry: In the past, entry-level workers establishing their resumes and honing their skills used to find it quite simple to land positions in the hospitality industry. They so agreed to put in the grueling hours and night shifts to get started.

However, according to Runberg, those new employees might be seeking greater possibilities elsewhere.

“With a high demand for labor across many businesses, it is also plausible that many workers entering the workforceβ€”often young peopleβ€”who would traditionally find employment in a restaurant or hotel are finding employment in other areas with more stable hours and less seasonality,” he said.

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