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Home care workers in high demand on High Desert

By Kandra Kent
Published On: Feb 27 2014 11:14:42 PM CST

NewsChannel 21's Kandra Kent spoke with regional economist and employers about the most in-demand jobs in Central Oregon.

BEND, Ore. -

Personal care aides: an industry not hurting for business.

"We're constantly hiring, so every Tuesday we hire and do an orientation," Right at Home Operations Manager Michelle Wainwright said Thursday.

The in-home care and adult assistance business staffs about 80 people. They specialize in care for the elderly and sick while providing companionship, health care and light domestic work for clients.

"Since 2012, we've doubled in business, Wainwright said.

It could be the most in-demand job on the High Desert.

A new state report highlights job vacancies at a regional level --previously, the report only examined industry vacancies across Oregon.

"Perhaps the surprising industry was almost 40 percent of all the vacancies that we had in Central Oregon were in health care and social assistance," said Regional Economist Damon Runberg.

Personal care aides topped the occupation report that defined Central Oregon as the middle strip of Oregon from Hood River to Lake Counties.

Last year , there were more than 370 job openings for personal care aides.

Other top industries with openings included farm workers and janitorial services.

Central Oregon Janitorial CEO Tara Byers, noting her company's recent growth, said, "Definitely within the last year, we've noticed a lot of high-end businesses reaching out and looking for services."

Byers' company added about 10 full-time employees in 2013. She said she just finished hiring more workers last week.

Runberg said since this is the first report, he can't fully decipher the numbers until a comparison can be made.

However, he said the regional perspective still offers interesting insight. 

"Vacancies here in Central Oregon tended to be part-time and temporary," Runberg said.

Runberg said the jobs with higher vacancy rates also tend to pay lower wages. Two-thirds of vacancies paid less than $15 an hour.

He said the vacant occupations salary in Central Oregon pays less than the state average of vacant positions.

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