Saturday, July 22, 2006

Looking for a low wage, dead end job? Move to Bend.

Here's a note to all those joyful Bush-leaguers who crow about an improving economy: there's more to those falling unemployment numbers than just getting someone a job. They actually have to be able to make enough to pay for stuff.

Take Bend, for example:

"It's weird. We're just not getting the applicants this year," Kurzman said. "Most years we have dozens of high school applicants. This year, we've had none."

Kurzman said the bakery pay starts at $7.50 an hour for a two-week training period and then rises based on experience.

Other companies say they are desperate for help to keep up with demand in Central Oregon's strong economy. An economist says the demand for labor is outstripping the workforce supply in Oregon and nationally, but Central Oregon is feeling the pinch more because it is growing faster.

Jody Denton of Merenda Restaurant and Wine Bar recently filled a line cook position after advertising a $1,000 signing bonus. He had advertised two open positions for at least six weeks, with pay of $9 to $12 an hour depending on experience. Benefits included vacation but not health insurance.

$7.50-$12 an hour with no health insurance? With rising fuel and food costs..not to mention housing, how is anyone supposed to survive on those kind of wages? And how exactly does this mean the economy is booming?

If the jobs being created aren't the type that can allow people to buy groceries, cars, houses and other goods, exactly how is this a good thing for citizens?

The average wage in Deschutes County last year was $15.09 per hour, excluding benefits. That's $31,400 a year based on a 52 week work year.

Tiptoeing through the Bend real estate ads is a pretty bleak exercise with checks of that size.