Continued job growth and record low unemployment are making it difficult for Oregon businesses to fill current vacancies, and Oregon’s economy is expected to create 263,000 total job openings each year through 2027. These are the findings of two new reports released by the Oregon Employment Department. One report is based on a survey of businesses that is designed to measure Oregon’s current workforce gaps. The other is based on economic trends and forecasts, and is designed to predict Oregon’s future workforce needs.
Oregon’s Current Workforce Gaps
Oregon businesses had 60,700 job vacancies at any one time during 2017. According to businesses, 38,700 (64 percent) of these vacancies were difficult to fill. This was the largest number of vacancies and share of difficult-to-fill vacancies since the job vacancy survey began in 2013.
A lack of applicants was the most common challenge filling vacancies. Nearly one out of every three (30 percent) difficult-to-fill job vacancies had an insufficient number of applicants or no applicants at all. Other common reasons given were a lack of qualified candidates (17 percent), unfavorable working conditions (14 percent), a lack of soft skills (11 percent), a lack of work experience (9 percent), low wages (6 percent), or other reasons (13 percent).
The occupations with the largest number of difficult-to-fill vacancies included truck drivers, carpenters, personal care aides, construction laborers, farmworkers, and restaurant cooks. These occupations top the list of 354 occupations reported by businesses to have difficult-to-fill vacancies.
Difficult-to-fill vacancies offered higher average wages than vacancies filled without difficulty. The average offered wage was $18.28 per hour for difficult-to-fill vacancies and $16.62 for job openings filled without difficulty. Difficult-to-fill vacancies were more likely to require previous work experience. Sixty-seven percent required previous work experience, while just 40 percent of vacancies filled without difficulty required previous experience.
Oregon’s Future Workforce Needs
Businesses’ relatively strong demand for workers should continue through 2027. Oregon’s total employment is projected to grow by 12 percent between 2017 and 2027, with a total of 246,000 new jobs and an annual average of 263,000 total job openings. For every one new job created by new or expanding businesses, there will be another nine job openings to replace workers who retire or otherwise leave the labor force.
All private sectors in Oregon are expected to add jobs by 2027. Private health care and social assistance will lead all industries in new job growth. The gain of 49,500 new jobs (20 percent growth) in health care can be attributed to continued growth and aging of the state’s population. Health care will account for one out of every five new jobs created in Oregon by 2027.
Health care also tops the list of Oregon’s fastest-growing occupations over the 10-year period. Eleven of the top 20 occupations by growth rate are either health care practitioners or health care support workers. They include physician and medical assistants, home health aides, nurse practitioners, veterinarians and veterinary assistants, physical and massage therapists, and other health diagnosing and treating practitioners.
Oregon’s second fastest-growing industry will be construction. Demand from both population and economic growth, and currently low residential inventory and low commercial vacancy rates across many areas of the state should lead construction employment to rise by 16,900 jobs (17 percent). Cement masons and concrete finishers, roofers, painters, tile and marble setters, and construction managers are also among the fastest-growing occupations statewide.
A broad variety of career opportunities will be available across all sectors as well as all job types. At the typical entry-level education, one-third of all job openings will require education or training beyond high school. To meet more competitive education requirements, nearly half of all job openings require at least some training beyond high school.
Occupations with the most job openings and typically requiring a high school diploma or less include retail salespersons, cashiers and food preparation and serving workers. Those requiring a postsecondary certification or associate degree include truck drivers, bookkeepers, and nursing and medical assistants. Occupations with the most total openings and at least a bachelor’s degree vary from general and operations managers to registered nurses, accountants, and software developers.
All areas of Oregon expect to see job opportunities due to both economic growth and to replace workers leaving the labor force in the coming years. The two regions projected to grow at the fastest rate are Central Oregon (15 percent) and the Portland area (13 percent).