The Origin and Future of our Tight Labor Market

The tight labor market we are experiencing has been a critical pinch point in the recovery from the COVID pandemic shock. Many of the conversations about the tight labor market lead to assumptions about “overly generous unemployment insurance,” “lazy workers,” or “greedy workers.” The labor market is in fact very tight, among the tightest markets on record, however the reasons why are far more complex than many of these assumptions. The story of our tight labor market is intricately connected to broader economic trends including demographic and population shifts, inflation, housing, federal stimulus, and supply chain disruptions. Damon will help put today’s labor market into perspective and look into the future to see when we can expect hiring to become easier.


Damon Runberg, Regional Economist with the Oregon Employment Department

Damon Runberg is a state economist with the Oregon Employment Department covering Central Oregon and the Klamath Basin. He calculates monthly employment and unemployment estimates for the area’s counties; additionally, Damon tracks various economic indicators critical to the regional and state economy. He writes prolifically and regularly gives presentations on the state of the economy. Damon has lived in Bend for the past twelve years. He received his Master of Public Policy from Oregon State University (Corvallis) where he specialized in econometric analysis and natural resource economics. Before that, he received his undergraduate from Gonzaga University.

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