Hundreds of jobs available in Sisters

 

Last updated 3/28/2023 at Noon



Bumblebee technician needed.

That’s one of nearly 300 advertised jobs in Sisters. Dozens of other jobs are not advertised but are needed by nearly every business in town. Almost every store window has a “help wanted” sign. The bee technician job consists mainly of conducting field work near Santiam Pass. The work requires long days in the field, travel over uneven terrain while maintaining focus, and close attention to detail. The pay? $22/hour.

Exotic jobs like this will likely be filled. Not so the more mundane jobs in retail and light industrial. Sisters Bakery, Dixie’s, Groomingdales, Ear Expressions, Dollar General, High Desert Chocolates, and Angeline’s are all scrambling to fill positions, most of which are in the $18- to 22-per-hour range, and some with benefits.

So where are the workers? According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce the pandemic caused a major disruption in America’s labor force, something many have referred to as “The Great Resignation.” In 2022, more than 50 million workers quit their jobs, many in search of an improved work-life balance and flexibility, increased compensation, and a strong company culture.

But a closer look, the Chamber says, at what has happened to the labor force can be better described as “The Great Reshuffle” because hiring rates have outpaced quit rates since November of 2020. So, many workers are quitting their jobs but many are getting rehired elsewhere.

That explanation appears to fit Bend and other Oregon cities of its size. Sisters has the added burden of location in relationship to where the workers live. It’s a challenge, employers tell The Nugget, to get anybody willing to commute to Sisters, especially when the cost of gas and car ownership is so high.

Kara Lappe, who owns Sisters Cascade and The SweetEasy Co. a few feet west is moving her handmade fudge a few feet west from the gift store to the ice cream and sweet emporium. Strategically, it makes sense, she said, but it also saves her a hard-to-get employee.

All over Sisters, business owners are reducing hours and/or days to compensate for being shorthanded. Residents are starting to grumble, if only under their breath, at the drop-off in service. On the one hand they want to be supportive to local merchants, and on the other they have seen an increase in prices at the same time service may have declined.

Randy Carlson and three buddies have a standing Wednesday noon lunch at a well-known eatery where they have been regulars for years.

“There was one cook and one waitress for almost 30 people,” he said. “No way that the poor woman could keep up with the tables. Really felt bad for her and left her a bigger tip, but we’re not coming back. An hour and a half for a burger and a beer is just not worth the time,” Carlson said.

Other businesses in Sisters are faced with hiring challenges due to their growth. Ponderosa Heating & Cooling, Electrical and Plumbing has 70 employees and expects to be at 100 by year end. Their jobs are good-paying — $50 to 55/hour for a journeyman. The application rate for young people seeking technical jobs like plumbing, building, and electrical work dropped by 49 percent in 2022 compared to 2020, according to data from online recruiting platform Handshake.

While the number of technical positions has continued to grow, the number of students interested in applying for them hasn’t. Such jobs have lost their cache with the arrival of Gen Z, the generation born between 1997 and 2012. In a pre-pandemic survey by the metals supplier Metal Supermarkets, half of Americans ages 18 to 24 said they would rather work as baristas than as welders. In another survey, by the large equipment rental company BigRentz, only 11 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds queried said they believed that training in the skilled trades led to high-paying jobs.

That might be changing, however. With student debt from typical four-year colleges averaging $37,574 per graduate, a national accumulation of $1.63 trillion, high school grads are taking an interest again in technical work. Ponderosa is ready for them, running their own Ponderosa “U” and does extensive in-house training and cross-training.

A few blocks away, Personalized Nutrients has made application to the City to build a new 16,200-square-foot facility attached to their existing 16,000-square-foot office and production operation. That alone will double their workforce from 35 to 70. General Manager Sam Meier said, “We need five to 10 today.”

The specialized company is starting a van pool from Bend on April 3, and they are optimistic that CET (Cascade East Transit) will soon obtain grant funding to run dedicated worker shuttles between Redmond and Sisters.

Meier is also exploring running a Friday/Saturday/Sunday premium shift, where staff work three 12-hour days and get paid for 40. Currently their production crews work four 10-hour shifts Monday through Thursday.

The stories are the same all over Sisters, where employers are often taking extreme or innovative measures to lure workers.

 

Reader Comments(0)

 
 

Our Family of Publications Includes:

Https://www.nuggetnews.com/home/cms Data/dfault/images/masthead 260x100
Sisters Oregon Guide
Spirit Of Central Oregon
Spirit Youtube
Nugget Youtube

Powered by ROAR Online Publication Software from Lions Light Corporation
© Copyright 2024

Rendered 02/29/2024 07:45