Business & economy

Workers slowly return across Malheur County as pandemic benefit bump ends

Companies like Kraft-Heinz are hiring around the region. (The Enterprise FILE)

ONTARIO – Pandemic-related unemployment benefits ended earlier this month, but experts say it’s too soon to tell how that will impact the Malheur County economy, or if it will ease the labor shortage with a wave of new applicants as employers hope.

The available data indicates that any change to the labor force will be small.

“Malheur County is really pretty close to employment levels prior to the pandemic,” said Christopher Rich, a regional economist for the Oregon Employment Department.

All pandemic-related federal unemployment programs ended on Sept. 4, including the federal pandemic unemployment compensation providing an extra $300 a week.

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