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La Grande Observer Daily Paper 07/28/14

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Home arrow Opinion arrow Our View arrow SPREAD THE WORD: WE'VE GOT JOBS

SPREAD THE WORD: WE'VE GOT JOBS

Union County is in an unusual — but enviable — situation. While Oregon's unemployment rate is the highest in the country at 7 percent, Union County's rate is 4.1 percent and area employers are in need of more workers. Problem is, there aren't enough good ones to go around.

THE COUNTY is enjoying the second-lowest unemployment rate in a state that has the highest unemployment rate in the nation. Even Wallowa County, which often has one of the highest levels of unemployment in the state, is at 5.4 percent. The national rate is 5.7 percent.

The low unemployment rates are good news for the counties as a whole, but the numbers don't bode well for employers who need to add people. Our recreational vehicle manufacturers are struggling to find an adequate supply of workers. Fleetwood Travel Trailers of Oregon, Northwood Manufacturing (a.k.a. Nash), and Eagle Cap Intermountain RV all could use more people who are willing to work. Nash and Fleetwood are among the area's largest employers already — Nash with 275 and Fleetwood with 211. Both could use about 50 more workers.

FLEETWOOD HAS FOUND that some of the people it has tried to put to work since launching an expansion late last year simply haven't wanted to work — at least not for very long. Some of the new hires have shown up for a couple of weeks, some for a month or two, and then just quit. Ron Nash, owner of Northwood, says there just aren't enough workers to go around.

The county is in the process of trying to get the word out that there are jobs available here. As other areas struggle and more people are laid off, getting the word out becomes extremely important – both for the people who are in need of jobs and are willing to work, as well as for employers who have jobs to fill.

Union County's predicament is unusual considering the mess Oregon's economy is in as a whole. With some effort to spread the word about available jobs, the problem should be short-lived.

Whoa there, Rep. Smith

Rep. Greg Smith, R-Heppner, a candidate to replace Speaker Mark Simmons as our area's next legislator, has found himself in a bit of a dispute with Salem's police. Smith was clocked going 41 mph in a 20 mph school zone last week. The police say Smith tried to claim immunity from speeding tickets because he was running late on his way to do the state's business. Smith denies that he claimed diplomatic

immunity.

If Smith claimed immunity, he was way out of bounds. He's not above the law. But even if he didn't make the claim, the fact that he was allegedly going more than twice the speed limit in a school zone, is cause for concern — even if the Legislature had actually been doing something. Smith has some

explaining to do.

 
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