PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Hiring has been a hassle throughout 2022 and the challenge is only exacerbated during the holiday season, when retailers and shipping companies look to obtain more staff to meet the increased demand.
In the Portland area, Fred Meyer and QFC stores currently have about 1,000 unfilled positions and FedEx said they have more than 240 positions open.
Small businesses are also struggling. Deena Spang, manager and buyer for The Arrangement on Northeast Fremont Street, said her boutique hired two people in October, in time for the holiday season. She said hiring them that early gave her time to train them before the shopping rush.
However, filling those two positions only brought the store up to its normal staffing, not additional staffing for the holidays.
“I think once we found these two employees that just reduced my stress level about finding employees for the holiday season,” Spang said.
With the addition of these two employees, she thinks the store will be staffed enough to get through the season. She also anticipates some college students returning during their break to work for her.
Her advice for any businesses looking to hire for the holidays is to not wait until the last minute. She said they should always be looking, because “You never know when a great person is going to walk into your door and want to work for you.”
Another thing she’s learned over the past year is to be willing and ready to hire people on the spot. One time, she found someone she wanted to hire, but when she called to make the job offer, the woman had already accepted another job.
“If someone’s out looking and you like them, just give them a chance. If you feel like you don’t have the space on your schedule, just try to be flexible,” she said.
Other pieces of advice include asking current employees if they know anyone looking for a new job and seeing if seasonal employees want to stick around after the holidays.
While Spang feels The Arrangement is adequately staffed for the busy season, she knows other local businesses are still looking for people.
Gail Krumenauer, an Oregon state employment economist, told KOIN 6 News that as of Nov. 2 there were approximately 100,000 job openings in the state’s private sector. Before 2021, the most openings the state had ever seen was 67,000 in 2017.
At the same time, unemployment now is almost as low as it was in 2019, before the pandemic.
According to employers’ responses to the Oregon Employment Department’s latest quarterly job vacancy survey, 7 out of 10 job openings are hard to fill.
Krumenauer said largely, anyone who wants a job has one or is looking for one.
She said there are a couple reasons employers are struggling to fill open positions. First, she said a greater share of Oregonians became self-employed during the pandemic and aren’t looking for other jobs. Second, she said the sheer volume of open jobs means there’s a lot of competition out there.
Nationally, the number of job openings has come down from record highs, but Krumenauer said it still remains high.
Employers told the Oregon Employment Department they are raising wages, reducing previous experience requirements and adding perks like better benefits and flexibility to recruit new employees.
They’re also focusing on ways to retain the employees they have.
Spang, from The Arrangement, would like to hold onto her staff as long as she can. She said the holiday season is fun, but it’s also stressful and can be a time of transition. Sometimes people move on, but she hopes these employees will stay.
Editor’s note: An editorial error in this story previously stated that the job vacancy survey said 1 out of 10 jobs are hard to fill. It has since been corrected to say 7 out of 10 jobs.