Job Vacancies in Southwestern Oregon, 2017

by Annette Shelton-Tiderman

March 14, 2018

According to the Oregon Employment Department’s 2017 Job Vacancy Survey, there were about 2,500 job vacancies in Southwestern Oregon at any given time last year. This was an increase from an average of 1,100 vacancies in 2016. The survey looks at industries having the largest number of vacancies as well as characteristics of those occupations offering the greatest number of opportunities. To gain these insights, responses from four quarterly surveys of 1,200 private employers in Douglas, Coos, and Curry counties were analyzed. Each survey focused on business needs and job characteristics that would likely be most informative, e.g., job title; full- or part-time status; permanent or temporary status; starting wage or salary; and needed educational and experience requirements.

Industries Reporting the Most Vacancies, 2017

Sixty percent of the openings reported were in just three industries. These were: health care and social assistance (775 vacancies; 30% of the total); leisure and hospitality (510; 20%); and transportation, warehousing, and utilities (262, 10%).
In 2016, the top three industries reporting the largest number of job vacancies were health care and social assistance (193 vacancies; 18% of the total); construction (185; 17%); and leisure and hospitality (175; 16%).

Across and Within Industries: Occupations with the Most Vacancies

Although Southwestern Oregon businesses reported job vacancies in 122 different occupations, over half of the vacancies were in only 20 of those occupations. These included personal care aides; heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers; teacher assistants; cooks and food preparation workers; registered nurses; and waiters and waitresses. Given the dominant industries, this is not at all surprising.
Of the 2,568 job vacancies reported, 1,907 (49%) were reported as being difficult-to-fill. The largest number of these were for personal care aides, cooks, and truck drivers.

Education Pays

Although nearly two-thirds of reported vacancies required no education beyond high school, the value of education was evident in the wages offered for positions. The average wage for all vacancies was $15.21 an hour. For those requiring only a high school diploma, it was $12.92 per hour; for postsecondary or other certification, the hourly wage jumped more than 50 percent to $20.11. Additional education resulted in noticeable wage increases. Furthermore, the likelihood of a job vacancy being full time also increased with higher education and more experience requirements.

The lion’s share of Southwestern Oregon’s job vacancies were reported in three of the area’s key industries. Although the opportunities represented by these openings varied widely, survey results showed the path to full-time and permanent jobs was directly related to education and experience.

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