BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) — Recognizing the threat that housing costs pose to talent attracting and retaining talent on, and to the regional economy in general, the Bend Chamber enlisted the help of retained ECONorthwest to assess labor market conditions and their relationship to housing unaffordability.
The final report draws on labor and housing market data and a survey of over 200 regional employers across several industry sectors. The survey, conducted in October, showed 91 percent of respondents as stating the high cost of housing limits their growth and strains their existing workforce.
l“Employers in Central Oregon are struggling to hire workers,” says Katy Brooks, Bend Chamber CEO. “It’s hard enough for businesses to find talent during a tight labor market like we are facing now, but what has become the predominant obstacle to hiring is the fact that housing is too expensive and difficult to find in Central Oregon.”
Businesses are struggling to find solutions, with survey results showing 43 percent of employers indicated that they have considered direct housing interventions, such as offering land for residential development, buying rental units for their workforce, or offering mortgage and down payment assistance to ease the cost of housing for their employees.
Roughly half of employers reported that they were unable to serve as many customers, remain open for their usual business hours, or deliver the quality of product or service they wish to because of their challenges with hiring. Over 50 percent of all respondents said that the hiring shortage led to a revenue decrease of 5 percent or more, with a quarter losing more than 11 percent.
“Our housing situation is a workforce and community crisis,” said Brooks. “This survey demonstrates how deep the problem goes and our need to get busy on building more attainable housing, and that takes both a public and private sector effort.”
The full results and findings from the survey can be found at the Bend Chamber’s Workforce Housing Initiative web page. The Workforce Housing Initiative has been underway since October 2021.
The Bend Chamber continues to support policies and development to more quickly increase housing inventory while convening groups of employers, developers, investors, housing experts, public sector staff, and others to explore near and long-term solutions.
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