Licensing board delays may be causing backup at local salons

The pandemic has caused a labor shortage, but a local salon owner says finding employees who want to work isn’t the issue.

Posted: Sep 9, 2021 10:55 AM
Updated: Sep 9, 2021 11:01 AM

EUGENE, Ore. -- The pandemic has caused a labor shortage, but a local salon owner says finding employees who want to work isn’t the issue.

Elizabeth Harestad, owner of Studio 408 on Crescent Avenue in Eugene, said business has been busy during the pandemic.

“Things have been actually going really well. It's been very busy since we've come back from the shutdown. We were shut down for eight weeks,” Harestad said.

Harestad said other salons are also busy and appointments are booked out across town. She’d like to hire several more employees to keep up. However, some applicants are fresh out of beauty school. They still need to take their licensing exams to be authorized to work in the state.

But Harestad said the state agency responsible for proctoring the exams, the Health Licensing Office, is closed due to COVID-19.

“We're ready to hire, but we can't hire because they're unable to be licensed because the state board offices are now behind and then also have been closed,” Harestad said.

We did reach out to the Oregon Health Authority, which oversees the Health Licensing Office, but have not heard back. However, the website confirms the office is closed to the public but is still scheduling appointments.

Harestad is also concerned about what happens when they eventually reopen.

“There's one licensing office for all of Oregon. So, when the licensing office opens up, what is that going to look like when you have students from all over Oregon go to this one office to make appointments? It's going to be backed up,” Harestad said.

Instead of making employees work extra hours to keep up with demand, she says they’re forced to book out appointments into the future. But that also means losing money.

“Our rents keep going up. Electricity bills keep going up. Our bills keep going up. But we're not able to get revenue that's coming in unless I were to ask my staff to work extra hard and then burn out. I'm not asking my staff to do that,” Harestad said.

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