Oregon job vacancies on the rise -- but...

Four jobless for each opening - and more prove hard to fill

SALEM, Ore. - Oregon's private-sector employers reported more job vacancies last fall than in prior years, with about 32,300 openings estimated statewide, according to survey results released Tuesday by the Oregon Employment Department.

The number of vacancies has increased incrementally every year since 2010, when the economy began to recover from recession, the agency said.

"Coupled with declines in the number of unemployed, these improvements in the labor market mean more opportunities for job seekers," according to the department.

In October, 133,100 Oregonians were unemployed, which means there were roughly four unemployed people for each private-sector vacancy. Nationally, there were three unemployed for each vacancy in October.

The unemployed to job vacancy ratio has improved over the past few years. In the fall of 2012, Oregon had five unemployed for each vacancy, while in the fall of 2011 the state had six unemployed for each vacancy.

"Time and again, employers tell us most of their vacancies are for full-time, permanent jobs," the agency said.

Two-thirds of the vacancies reported in the fall were for full-time positions. That share has moved around in a fairly narrow range during the recovery -- with full-time opportunities accounting for two-thirds to three-fourths of vacancies.

Employers reported that more than half of their vacancies in the fall were difficult to fill. The share has increased since the fall of 2012, when 44 percent of vacancies were difficult to fill.

Last year, the major reasons given by employers for the difficulty to fill openings included unfavorable working conditions, a lack of qualified candidates, a lack of applicants for jobs, and a lack of work experience among applicants. (See the full report here: qualityinfo.org/pubs/difficult.pdf)

Transportation and material moving, office and administrative support, and health care support occupations had the most vacancies last fall, the department reported.

Holiday hiring played a role in fall vacancies, with more recruitment for truck drivers (both heavy and light delivery trucks) and freight and stock movers helping transportation and material moving reach the top of the list. Increased hiring of retail salespersons, cashiers and stock clerks boosted the sales and related category in the fall.

The survey captured vacancies in five sub-state regions: Northwest Oregon/Willamette Valley; the Portland Tri-County area; Southwestern Oregon; Central Oregon; and Eastern Oregon.

The Portland Tri-County area had 14,000 vacancies, more than two-fifths of the statewide total - a percentage that's close to the area's share of total employment. Portland was the only area with fewer vacancies in fall 2013 than a year earlier.

In Central Oregon, there were 1,600 more vacancies last fall than the prior year, a 50 percent increase.

About the Survey

The Employment Department has moved to a quarterly Oregon Job Vacancy Survey, replacing the annual survey that has been in place since 2008. The fall 2012 survey captured 31,200 vacancies. Following seasonal employment patterns, vacancies declined to 22,900 in the first quarterly panel in winter 2013, then surged up to 35,200 during the spring, hit 42,900 in the summer, and retreated to 32,300 in fall 2013.

The Oregon Employment Department plans to release a detailed analysis of all 2013 vacancies in March, followed by first quarter 2014 figures in early April, and details of the 2013 difficult-to-fill responses in May.

For more details on recent Oregon job vacancies, visit the "publications" tab on QualityInfo.org and scroll down to the section titled "Quarterly Job Vacancies Snapshots."

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