Metro to Lay Off 40 Percent of Its 1,700-Member Workforce

The regional government operates most of Portland’s shuttered public entertainment venues—as well as the Oregon Zoo.

The regional government Metro is laying off 40 percent of its employees, most of them workers at the now-shuttered Oregon Zoo, Oregon Convention Center and Expo Center.

Metro chief financial officer Marissa Madrigal announced the layoffs in a staff memo this afternoon.

"I'm not going to sugarcoat it—delivering this news is heartbreaking," Madrigal wrote. "The severity and swiftness of our revenue decline will require Metro to lay off about 40% of our total workforce and require broad measures such as targeted 5% to 20% schedule reductions or furloughs in all departments."

Metro currently has 1,700 employees, spokeswoman Kimberlee Ables tells WW.

Metro's revenues have been hammered by the coronavirus and the resulting shutdown. Metro operates most of the Portland region's public venues—including the zoo, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall and the Expo Center. All are closed. The Oregon Convention Center is now a homeless shelter.

Those closures rapidly depleted the government's budget. Nearly half of Metro's budget comes from charging for services. Closing venues is costing the government $7.2 million a month, Metro says.

Layoffs will begin as soon as tomorrow, Madrigal wrote. She pledged that all laid-off employees would see their health care benefits extended for three months.

"When we've gotten past the worst of this pandemic," she wrote, "when the economy rebounds, you have my word that I will do everything in my power to bring our most valuable assets, our employees, back to Metro as quickly as I can."

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