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Business and Labor

Douglas County Leaders Ask State To Stop Supplemental Unemployment

Douglas County Commissioner Chris Boice wrote the letter to the governor signed by Board Chair Tom Kress and Commissioner Tim Freeman. CREDIT DOUGLAS COUNTY

The Douglas County Board of Commissioners just sent another letter to Oregon Governor Kate Brown. The latest missive asks for a halt to enhanced unemployment benefits put in place during the pandemic.

The letter penned by Commissioner Chris Boice cites the “lack of available workforce” and undue burdens placed on small businesses as justification for stopping supplemental benefits for the unemployed.

Boice wrote about a recent “Open Air Job Fair” at which 28 businesses were looking to fill 438 positions immediately. Only about 150 job seekers showed up. He also cited a study by the Southern Oregon Workforce Investment Board (SOWIB) which found an employer would have to start a worker at $19.00 an hour, for a 40-hour work week, to match what an unemployed person currently receives to “stay at home.”

The letter was signed by Boice as well as Board Chair Tom Kress and Commissioner Tim Freeman. None responded to requests for comment.

Commissioners from 14 eastern Oregon counties, along with three state representatives and one senator, signed a letter with a similar request. It was sent to the governor’s office on Monday, June 7.

More than two dozen GOP-led states have stopped enhanced federal unemployment benefits.

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