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Despite wave of coronavirus layoffs, some businesses are looking to hire

Bob's Red Mill, Amazon and several grocery chains are looking to hire people right now.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Despite upheaval and layoffs in the Portland area service industry caused by the coronavirus pandemic, some businesses are hiring locally.

Amazon, for instance wants to fill 1,500 positions in Oregon, a company spokeswoman said.

Amazon is looking to hire full- and part-time positions, and has boosted pay by an additional $2 per hour to encourage applicants. Positions are listed on the Amazon website. Those interested can apply online.

Bob’s Red Mill is hiring for a number of different manufacturing positions “in our packaging, in our milling, in machine operations, if anyone has any experience in that,” said Sophia Malek, the Milwaukie-based company’s learning and development specialist.

She said people can apply on the Bob’s Red Mill website.

“We’re facing a surge in orders to be fulfilled,” Malek said. “We just need a lot of help in fulfilling orders to get them out as soon as possible to our customers. It’s definitely more than usual due to the increased need for groceries.”

She said many of the Bob’s Red Mill positions require no experience and would be good positions for people who are temporarily out of work.

“There are a ton of positions that are entry level,” she said. “We provide the training on-site.”

Grocery chains are also looking for employees as shoppers continue to swamp stores looking to stock up.

Safeway and Albertsons stores, which are owned by the same company, are advertising for 1,600 openings in 141 stores in Oregon and Southwest Washington, company spokeswoman Jill McGinnis wrote in an email.

Information provided by Safeway/Albertsons lists in-store positions in the deli, meat, bakery, produce, fuel station and customer service departments, as well as cashiers and courtesy clerks.

The grocery chain also is looking for full and part-time delivery drivers and for workers in its distribution center.

Those interested can apply online.

RELATED: Safeway, Albertsons hiring for all positions immediately

At least one banking chain, Advantis Credit Union, has a total of 10 openings at its branches in Portland, Gresham and Milwaukie. Kyleigh Gill, Advantis’ communications and community engagement manager said the credit union is looking for tech-savvy individuals. Those interested should apply online.

She wrote in an email that the most important qualification “is a strong desire to be of service and the ability to build relationships with our members.”

Another industry hard hit by the coronavirus is health care, especially those companies that serve senior citizens.

Home Instead Senior Care, which furnishes home health care to older adults, has a variety of positions available and is accepting online applications.

Wilsonville-based Avamere Senior Living is also looking for health care workers to cover expected staff shortages caused by the pandemic according to this report in the Portland Business Journal. The company is looking for nurses, caregivers, cooks and housekeepers. Here is a link to the Avamere website.

All of the companies looking for workers say they are addressing potential employees’ concerns that they remain safe if they are on the job.

Home Instead administrator Matt Preston, who oversees operations on the west side of Portland, downtown and Lake Oswego, wrote in an email that the company focuses fully on ensuring the health and safety of its work force and of the community.

He said new hires would be specifically trained to reduce “the risk of illness as we continue to revisit reemphasize with our professional caregiving team.”

Amazon addressed the same concerns in an email, saying its workers’ health is a priority.

Amazon said it is taking “all recommended precautions in our buildings and stores to keep people healthy. We’ve taken measures to promote social distancing in the workplace and taken on enhanced and frequent cleaning, to name just a few.”

Bob’s Red Mill also said that keeping employees -- new and existing -- is an ongoing concern.

“We’re going above and beyond with our cleaning and our pandemic response,” Malek said. “Our first priority is that all of our facilities are safe for employees.”

-- Ken Goe

kgoe@oregonian.com | @KenGoe

This article was originally published by The Oregonian/OregonLive, one of more than a dozen news organizations throughout the state sharing their coverage of the novel coronavirus outbreak to help inform Oregonians about this evolving heath issue. 

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