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%) 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%) 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%), unfavorable working conditions (14%), a lack of soft skills (11%), a lack of work experience (9%), low wages (6%), or other reasons (13%).
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.