These are unprecedented and incredibly fluid times. To be responsive during the COVID-19 crisis, Worksystems developed a Crisis Response and Recovery Framework to help guide our thinking and activities as we work with partners to address the current crisis and associated economic fallout. This Framework includes the following principles that will guide our investments & activities:
Prioritize support to the most vulnerable, applying a racial equity lens
Prioritize support to community-based partners
Leverage and build on existing networks and assets
Engage, listen and act quickly
Listening and Learning from the Community
Worksystems issued a rolling survey to local businesses and community-based organizations. In addition, we engaged our service provider partners to understand their concerns and challenges.
To date, we've received 67 responses to the survey. This is what we heard:
- 25% are having trouble making payroll
- 34% are hiring
- 21% (14 organizations) have already laid off staff
- 28% (19 organizations) either have planned layoffs or think layoffs in the next two weeks are very likely
- 57% said they need resources to supplement an employee’s income and benefits due to reduced hours
- 27% said they need remote access equipment to allow staff to work from home
In addition to the survey concerns, our service provider network indicated that many currently engaged customers have no access to computers or internet.
Here's the latest on weekly unemployment claims by county and industry
- We have partnered with Washington County to staff a dedicated phone line to connect small businesses to resources and assistance.
- We have established dedicated phone lines in Multnomah and Washington counties to connect dislocated workers to workforce services and other supports.
- We provided grant funding to support training for tech workers who are telecommuting.
- We are analyzing the impact of COVID-19 on our region's labor force and sectors.
- We are tracking unemployment claims by county and sector in our region.
- We have launched daily webinars for workers and businesses impacted by COVID-19 to provide information on UI, health care options and other support resources.
- We hosted a webinar to provide information on the housing and eviction moratorium.
- We staffed a one-hour webinar with KGW News to answer viewer questions on UI and provide information on workforce training and other support services.
- We have partnered with the State to secure two National Dislocated Worker Grants that bring $1.5M in workforce resources to our region. Thank you Congresswoman Bonamici for your assistance.
- We have submitted a request to the Oregon Health Authority to respond to critical COVID related needs in the regional healthcare industry.
- We provided $430k in layoff aversion grant funds to 43 CBOs in Washington and Multnomah counties to help them to continue to operate.
- We built a structure to aggregate available job opportunities. Contact August Dao to learn more.
- We purchased and distributed 400 laptops and 6 months free internet access to trainees in our system who need to connect remotely.
- We have joined the Mayor of Portland's taskforce to reduce the digital divide.
- We supported the letter that was sent to Governor Brown, Senate President Courtney, and House Speaker Kotek advocating for specific relief for workers in our region impacted by COVID-19.
- We are engaged in policy discussions at the federal and state level to advocate for resources and other assistance. We are also advocating for federal increases in WIOA Title I to support wage subsidies, stipends, re-employment and other transitional supports.
- We established a resource page for current information.
- We are working with our various funders to modify contracts and expectations to reflect the needs that have emerged as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.
- We are advancing payment to our service providers to help with cash flow.
- We are monitoring the availability of additional grant funding and will continue to coordinate the resources of the public workforce system to swiftly respond to community needs.