Day laborer ranks grow

Portland day laborers increase in number and diversity.

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With unemployment worsening, the number of visitors seeking employment at the city-funded labor center has grown to over 80 people every day.

Now, as unemployment worsens, the site is seeing an influx of workers and — perhaps surprisingly, given the day labor community’s largely Latino makeup — more diversity. The center, particularly controversial because it receives city funding, is also working to quell complaints about labor and immigration issues.

In the weeks after the center’s inception, the average daily turnout hovered near 70 workers, according to hire site manager Ignacio Paramo. Now, 80 to 120 workers show up at the center each day, adding their names to raffles that determine which workers get jobs. The site typically sees about 25 employers each day, seeking help on projects ranging from construction to gardening to moving.

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