Fall 2021 Hiring Among Oregon’s Private EmployersJanuary 13, 2022 Each quarter, 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. Oregon businesses reported almost 102,900 vacancies in fall 2021(fourth quarter). Total job openings decreased 4% from the summer and increased 88% from fall 2020. The large volume of openings in the fall follows two record quarters: 107,000 vacancies in summer 2021 and 97,800 in spring 2021.
Pre-pandemic, the record high was 66,600 vacancies in summer 2017. The high level of job vacancies is not unique to Oregon right now. The number of private-sector job openings in the U.S. totaled 8,995,000 in April 2021, 10,700,000 in July, and 10,600,000 in October, beating the previous high seen in October 2018 (7,055,000) significantly.
The unemployed-to-vacancy ratio reached record lows in fall 2021, as the economy continued to recover from the COVID-19 recession. The number of unemployed has declined swiftly since surging in spring 2020 with layoffs related to the pandemic, both in Oregon and across the United States. Nationally, unemployment increased by 17 million between January 2020 and April 2020, when the number of unemployed in the U.S. reached 23.1 million. The number of private-sector job openings in the U.S., as measured by the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, fell by 2.3 million between January 2020 and April 2020, resulting in a ratio of more than five unemployed people for every job opening. As pandemic spikes and restrictions have eased, by October 2021 job openings in the U.S. rose to 10.6 million and the number of unemployed sank to 6.9 million, resulting in a ratio of 0.7 unemployed people per job opening.
In Oregon, the ratio shot even higher in spring 2020 as the number of unemployed surged, resulting in 5.8 unemployed people for every job vacancy, similar to the ratio measured in early 2013 as the state was recovering from the Great Recession. However, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic was very swift, rapidly spreading across the labor market and taking the economy essentially from full employment to deep recession in just a couple of months. The ratio has steadily improved since the initial spike in spring 2020. By October 2021, the number of unemployed Oregonians dropped more and the number of job vacancies rose significantly, leaving 0.7 unemployed persons per job opening, down from the 1.3 unemployed persons per job opening in spring 2021 and 1.0 in summer 2021.
Most openings in the fall were for full-time, permanent positions. Education beyond high school was required for 32% of fall vacancies. Health care and social assistance topped the industry list in fall, with 27,700 vacancies. This has been the sector with the most vacancies 22 of the past 24 quarters. The construction industry had the second most vacancies of any industry, with 11,100 job vacancies.
Hiring demand was widespread throughout industries and occupations. Five industries had more than 10,000 vacancies in the fall: health care and social assistance; construction; retail trade (10,800); leisure and hospitality (10,600); and manufacturing (10,500). A majority of employers in every industry reported their vacancies as difficult to fill. Overall, 76% of vacancies were considered difficult to fill.
Employers reported vacancies in 270 different occupations. The occupations with the most vacancies in fall 2021 included retail salespersons (5,100 vacancies), personal care aides (4,400), truck drivers (3,900), and nursing assistants (3,000).
The average starting wage reported in summer was $21.22, a 14% inflation-adjusted increase from fall 2020. Total vacancies were up 88% from the level last fall. The number of vacancies offering a starting wage below $15 per hour decreased 16% over the year. The number of vacancies offering between $15 and $25 per hour increased 213%, and vacancies paying above $25 per hour increased 252%.
Fall vacancies were distributed across the state, with the Portland tri-county area accounting for about 42%. Vacancies increased over the year in every region of the state, with the largest gains in Northwest Oregon and Lane County.
More details about Oregon Job Vacancies are available on QualityInfo.org, on the publications page under Job Vacancy Survey.