Characteristics of Job Vacancies in 2018

by Gail Krumenauer

March 7, 2019

Throughout the year, the Oregon Employment Department surveys private employers from all industries and areas of the state to ask about the job vacancies they are actively trying to fill. For each vacancy, the employer provides the job title, starting wage, and education and experience requirements for the job. They also specify whether their vacancies are for full- or part-time positions, and permanent or seasonal jobs. If they face challenges with vacancies, employers also write in the primary reason for difficulty filling their job openings.

Widespread Hiring Demand

Employers reported 58,000 job openings at any given time in 2018. Health care and social assistance reported the most vacancies of any industry (10,200), followed by leisure and hospitality (7,900), and manufacturing (6,600). Together these three sectors accounted for 43 percent of all job openings statewide. Despite big vacancy totals in a few sectors, hiring demand was widespread across the economy. All sectors, except the relatively small private education industry, reported at least 1,000 job vacancies at any given time in the year.
Employers were hiring for a wide variety of jobs; they reported vacancies across 399 different occupations. Occupations with the highest number of job vacancies in 2018 reflected this variety. They included personal care aides (3,000 vacancies), heavy truck drivers (1,900), retail salespersons (1,900), janitors (1,300), restaurant cooks (1,100), nursing assistants (1,000), and production workers (900).

Full-Time and Permanent Help Wanted

Across all industries, most job vacancies (79%) offered full-time employment in 2018. That share rose as high as 97 percent in construction and 96 percent in manufacturing. Even in sectors with relatively low shares – such as private education services (54%) and leisure and hospitality (58%) – the majority of job openings were for full-time work.

A large majority (89%) of job openings were also for permanent positions. Sectors with notably lower shares of vacancies for permanent jobs included natural resources and mining (53%) and private education services (63%). Each of these sectors tend to have large seasonal shifts in employment. Where natural resources work generally hits a peak in the summer months, private (and all) education tends to hit a low for summer break.

About one-third (32%) of job vacancies require education beyond high school. That varied widely among industries. While 72 percent of professional and technical services job openings required higher education, less than 10 percent of retail, leisure and hospitality, and natural resources and mining vacancies did.
More Education, More Experience, and Higher Wages

As education requirements rose, so did the average starting wage for job openings. Job vacancies with no education requirement averaged $13.69 per hour in 2018. That rose by nearly $2 per hour to $15.36 for job vacancies requiring a high school diploma. Employers offered an average of $23.21 per hour for jobs with either some college, an associate degree, or a special certification beyond high school. Vacancies with bachelor’s or advanced degree requirements paid twice as much per hour ($30.63) as job openings requiring high school completion.
Shares of job vacancies requiring previous experience also rose along with education requirements. While slightly more than one-third (36%) of job vacancies with no education requirements reported a need for previous experience, almost two-thirds (63%) with a high school diploma wanted seasoned candidates. That grew to 82 percent of job vacancies where applicants needed postsecondary or other certifications. Nearly all (94%) job openings at the bachelor’s and advanced degree level required previous work experience.

Difficulty Filling Job Vacancies

Oregon’s unemployment rate has been at or near a record low for more than two years. This has contributed to employers’ difficulty filling the majority (33,000 or 57%) of job vacancies in 2018. With low unemployment rates, it also makes sense that employers most commonly cited a lack of applicants as the primary reason for difficulty filling vacancies. At any given time in 2018, Oregon’s private employers had 8,000 job openings with too few applicants, or none at all.

Difficult-to-fill job vacancies paid roughly $3 per hour more than job openings filled without difficulty. They were also far more likely to require previous experience than vacancies filled without difficulty. Many employers noted the challenge of finding experienced workers looking for a job in a labor market with low unemployment. Some emphasized the tight labor market by describing a “good economy, small available workforce” and competition among businesses because “everyone is looking for employees.” Others looking for experienced workers expressed that they were in “high demand” or “already working.”

Hiring demand remained strong and broad-based across Oregon’s economy in 2018. Most job vacancies offered full-time work schedules, and employers were mostly looking to fill permanent positions. Vacancies with higher education requirements also came along with a greater likelihood for prior experience requirements, and higher average wages. Employers faced challenges filling nearly six out of 10 job vacancies, most commonly due to a lack of applicants in a tight labor market with low unemployment.

More information about regional and statewide job vacancies can be found in the Job Vacancy box on the publications page of

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