Oregon Is Running Out of Workers Who Can Pass a Drug Test

It's a remarkable finding from the state economist.

(Christine Dong)
On May 23, the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis released its quarterly forecast, a 66-page assessment of the state’s economy, which is booming.
That’s led to bounteous tax receipts and record low unemployment—4 percent, the lowest level since the state began keeping track in 1990.
Yet state economists Mark McMullen and Josh Lehner are hearing from employers that many of those who don’t have jobs are unemployed for a reason.
“One labor issue that continues to crop up is drug testing. At least anecdotally, more firms are reporting trouble finding workers who can pass a drug test,” the economists write.
The economists aren’t sure what to make of the possibility a lot of Oregonians cannot produce clean urine.
“Given the tight labor market, and legal recreational marijuana up and down the Left Coast, these reports are a bit surprising,” they write. “It may be that the pool of available applicants has shifted; that individuals who can pass drug test already have a job. It may be for insurance‐related reasons that employers are ensuring they have a drug‐free workplace, even if it means monitoring their employees behavior on their own time. However it is possible that these anecdotal reports reflect a broader increase in drug usage that would be both an economic and societal problem.”

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