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Experiencing waits in stores and restaurants? There’s a reason for that

Help wanted signs are common around Eugene
Karen Richards
Help wanted signs are common around Eugene this fall.

Economists say to expect long lines at stores this season and to keep patient at restaurants. Although Lane County’s unemployment rate is very low, there are a record number of jobs available.

Henry Fields is a local analyst with the Oregon Employment Department. He said early retirement and lack of child care are two big reasons people aren’t working. “Our quarterly job vacancy survey indicates that there are more job openings and those are more difficult to fill than it has been in the history of that survey,” he told KLCC.

Fields said 78% of jobs were tough to fill in summer of 2021. He said some health care jobs have always been that way, while restaurants are hiring all at once right now, “We’ve all experienced going to out a restaurant and seeing less ability to meet the demand there at the table," he said, "and the same sort of thing happens at grocery stores and manufacturing facilities.”

Fields said businesses have to differentiate themselves in order to attract employees. According to the most recent data from 2020, jobs in transportation and health care support were the hardest to fill in Lane County.

Karen Richards joined KLCC as a volunteer reporter in 2012, and became a freelance reporter at the station in 2015. In addition to news reporting, she’s contributed to several feature series for the station, earning multiple awards for her reporting.