Oregon firms report most job openings in six years

Jobless number falls; three people out of work for each vacancy

Oregon businesses reported 11,700 more job vacancies in the spring of 2014 than they did the prior year, officials said Wednesday.

Businesses had approximately 46,900 job vacancies in the spring months of 2014, according to a Job Vacancy Survey recently completed by the Oregon Employment Department.

The last time vacancies were at this level was in 2008, before the Great Recession did its damage. In the spring of 2008, Oregon had 47,900 vacancies.

While vacancies rose this spring, the number of unemployed Oregonians declined to 131,000 in April. As a result, Oregon had three unemployed people per vacancy. That's still above the two unemployed per private-sector vacancy nationwide, but below Oregon's 4-to-1 ratio one year ago.

Vacancies were recorded across a wide range of education levels - from jobs requiring a high school education (about 22,000), to positions in need of postsecondary-trained workers (just over 8,000), and jobs requiring a bachelor's or advanced degree (also about 8,000).

The largest increase since last spring occurred in vacancies requiring a high school diploma, which doubled. Common jobs requiring high school include cashiers, janitors and cleaners, home health aides, waiters and waitresses, and retail salespersons.

Average wages increased along with educational requirements. Vacancies that required some training beyond high school had an average wage $4 per hour above those that needed a high school diploma. The average wage for vacancies with bachelor or advanced degree requirements paid $13 per hour above those with post-secondary training.

Overall, the average wage offered for vacancies this spring, $14.69, was lower than the $15.09 average in the spring of 2013. The number of high-wage vacancies (those paying $25 per hour or more) hasn't changed. But, the number of vacancies paying less than $15 per hour is well above the level at this time last year.

This reflects a growing need for seasonal part-time workers, concentrated in jobs that tend to pay low wages, such as sales, food preparation, and building and grounds cleaning and maintenance. These occupations, along with office and administrative support vacancies, each recorded more than 4,000 openings in the spring, the report said.

Vacancies increased significantly over the year in Eastern Oregon, the Portland area, and Central Oregon. Eastern Oregon saw the largest rate of increase, with sizable gains in farming, production, and transportation related vacancies. Total vacancies declined slightly over the year in Northwest Oregon and the Willamette Valley.

About the Survey
The Oregon Employment Department conducts the Oregon Job Vacancy Survey and estimates the number of job vacancies each quarter based on responses from private-sector businesses with at least two employees. Estimates for summer 2014 will be released in October. For more details on recent Oregon job vacancies, visit the "publications" tab on and scroll down to the section titled "Quarterly Job Vacancies Snapshots."

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