COVID-19 Impacts on the Rogue Valley Job Market

by Polly Farrimond

January 7, 2021

During the unprecedented times of COVID-19 some may wonder what occupations are currently in demand by employers. The data source that can shed some light on this topic is Help Wanted Online also known as HWOL.

Help Wanted Online (HWOL)

Help wanted ads, tracked by Wanted Analytics, are an indicator of demand for workers. While these ads provide a proxy for labor market demand, they do not provide an exact measure of job openings for a few reasons. First, not all openings are posted online, and certain industries tend to post jobs online more often. In addition, some jobs are posted online continuously as a means of collecting resumes without the intention of an immediate hire. Price changes for advertising job ads on job boards also affect the number of help wanted ads that are captured.

Despite not measuring all job openings, the HWOL data series provides a way to measure trends in hiring, real-time changes in labor demand, and occupational mix and growth.

December 2019 vs 2020

In Jackson and Josephine counties during the month of December 2019 there were 1.6% more HWOL ads than for the same time period in 2020. Several occupations saw big shifts in hiring demand over the year.  
In December 2020 the listings for heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers increased by 32 postings or 228.6% over December 2019. The demand for supplies in both grocery, retail, and online shopping has increased demand for the number of Commercial Driver’s License holders in our area. In the Rogue Valley, the median wage of these drivers is $22.87. The number of facilities offering the truck driver training has been impacted by COVID-19 restrictions. 

Personal care aides are those who assist the elderly, convalescents, or persons with disabilities with daily living activities at a person’s home or in a care facility. These positions have seen an increase in demand of 187.5% since December 2019. The median wage for this job is $14.35 in the Rogue Valley. Due to COVID-19 health restrictions and concerns these positions might be harder to fill. Many local long-term care facilities have been severely impacted with COVID-19 cases. 

Cooks in restaurants show a 166.7% increase in demand. This group has many part-time workers that have been affected by the closures of in house dining. These cooks prepare food, order supplies, and other duties in the kitchens. Many of these workers might be looking to other more permanent positions outside the restaurant industry because of the uncertainty. The accommodation and food services industry continues to be impacted severely by COVID-19 restrictions in the Rogue Valley. In November 2020, food preparation and serving related occupations represented the largest share of continued unemployment insurance claims by occupation in both Jackson and Josephine counties.
Nurse practitioners, physicians, and surgeons have seen a decrease in postings in the HWOL program. With the high demands on local medical facilities, many positions are now fully staffed to meet demands of the outbreak in cases of COVID-19. Other medical positions like registered nurses, nursing assistants, and medical and health services managers had smaller declines in HWOL ads over the year. The impacts of COVID-19 on the hospitals and clinics will continue until the vaccine and community spread reduces the cases here in the valley. 

As time goes on we will continue to see the impacts of COVID-19 on our local job market. When businesses are allowed to be fully operational, without as many restrictions, the labor market will continue to change as the local economy recovers from the pandemic recession.

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