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Employee shortage causes companies to take extra steps to attract new talent

With a shortage of local workers, companies are forced to get creative to attract new employees. Graphic Packaging is one example, with more than 30 openings.

PORTLAND, Ore. — With a shortage of workers, local companies have been forced to get creative in order to attract new employees.

Graphic Packaging International has more than 30 openings and they used to have just four. The company creates cartons for items like cereal and beer. Sylvia Dozier, who works in human resources, said they're trying to fill positions at every level, from skilled trades to salaried positions.

"We are recruiting for 35 roles across our three plants," Dozier said. "So that's nine in Gresham, 14 in Vancouver and 12 at our Portland plant."

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Dozier said this is the worst employee shortage she's seen.

"We have definitely upped our referral bonus," Dozier said. "We've also upped our new hire bonus. It went from $250 to $1,000."

Lisa Monfills is with Express Employment. They are a professional staffing firm with 10 offices throughout the Portland metro.

Credit: Bryant Clerkley

She has more than 200 jobs she's trying to fill in her office alone. Many of the positions are in manufacturing, warehouse and food distribution.

"There are so many available jobs and not enough people wanting and willing to go back to work," Monfills said. "It's creating this frenzy of companies competing."

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Monfills said right now it's an employees market because a lot of people are still hesitant to get back to work.

"Jobs that were paying minimum wage a year ago, are paying $18 to $19 an hour right now and they still can not find people," Monfills said.

Monfills said companies are willing to train people with little to no experience, which is not something they've always had to do. She also said as more people get back to work, companies might scale back on the hiring bonuses and increased wages.

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