Employees who were able to work from home and had more flexible schedules during the pandemic said they are more satisfied with their jobs, according to an online survey by the Oregon Values and Beliefs Center.

The 15 months of pandemic-related closures and limitations left most — 8 in 10 — Oregonians in the same position as before the pandemic. Some played musical chairs, changing jobs for better pay or better benefits; others left the workforce.

Slightly more than half the 1,440 Oregon residents ages 18 and older surveyed were employed before the pandemic, compared to 44% after the pandemic, according to the nonpartisan charitable organization, which has partnered with Pamplin Media Group, EO Media Group and the Oregon Values and Beliefs Center. EO Media Group owns newspapers in Oregon and Washington, including The Bulletin.

The survey was conducted June 8 through 14.

Those who earned more than $100,000 per year were more satisfied with their job than those making less than $50,000, according to the survey. Lack of job security contributed greatly to workers feeling less satisfied, according to the survey.

“Many Oregonians experienced flexibility and support from their employers during the pandemic, while others felt they were hung out to dry by a sudden and unexpected lack of job security,” said Amaury Vogel, Oregon Values and Beliefs Center associate executive director. “Of those currently seeking employment, most say the pandemic has influenced their thinking about the kind of opportunity they’re seeking and are hoping to avoid being put in another situation where they have to worry about not only job security, but also their own, and their family’s, health and safety.”

The survey results jive with Oregon Employment Department views. Workers with a lower level of education experienced the greatest loss of full-time employment during the pandemic, said Kale Donnelly, Oregon Employment Department workforce analyst for the East Cascades region.

“We’re hearing talk about workers playing this game of “musical chairs” throughout the labor market,” Donnelly said. Many people are now looking for a different line of work, and that could lead to job openings that many job seekers can transition to.

“And, now that remote work is far more desirable and manageable than ever before, the job market’s pond just got a whole lot bigger for people looking to make a shift in their career,” Donnelly said.

A tour of want ads provide a lot of work opportunity today, Donnelly said. Online job ad activity has rapidly grown, and the number of job ads throughout the state are at historic highs — roughly 75% higher than this time in 2019 and 37% higher in Deschutes County, he said.

Employers are offering higher wages and sizable hiring bonuses just to be able to compete for workers in this tight labor market. It’s definitely a job seeker’s market out there.

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