'Help Wanted' signs have taken over Bend

Many employers seeking workers

Businesses search for employees

BEND, Ore. - If you take a drive down Third Street in Bend it might seem like you can't even go a mile without seeing a 'Help Wanted' sign, but the Bend-Redmond metro area 's unemployment rate is still somewhat higher than the state and national levels.

"We're at like 5.4 percent right now unemployment rate," Oregon Employment Department regional economist, Damon Runberg said Wednesday.

The state and national rates are both around 5 percent, but while area rates could suggest jobs would be in demand, many employees are having trouble filling vacancies.

"The now hiring on the board has probably been up for six, maybe eight months," said Carol Monk, a Bend restaurant assistant manager.

"We're not getting very many applications. We get one, maybe two a week," she said.

Runberg said the unemployment rate has risen a bit, but there are contributing factors.

"The labor market is expanding. People are moving into your community, and usually when people move into your community, they move without a job," he said.

During the recession, the Bend-Redmond Metro Area (defined by the Census Bureau as all of Deschutes County) had one of the highest jobless  rates in the country, at around 13 percent. It's a very different picture today.

"We've been one of the fastest-growing economies I think for the past three years," Runberg said. "When you're talking about metro areas in the United States,we've had so many years of consecutive job growth that the supply of labor has shrunk to the point where it's very difficult for employers to find their ideal candidate."

Employers said they're seeing the difference.

"We put our Help Wanted sign up, and we usually get a lot of applicants -- this time we only had a few," said William Good, assistant manager at a Bend car wash.

Runberg said that's good news for job-seekers.

"This is a labor-driven market right now, so if you are looking for work, you obviously have more leverage right now," he said.

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