Long-Term Job Openings Fueled by Replacements

by Felicia Bechtoldt

July 2, 2019

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 job openings each year through 2027.

At 12 percent, expected employment growth in Oregon from 2017 to 2027 is more than one and a half times the projected national growth rate of 7.4 percent. In some industries, the state is still making up for jobs lost during the Great Recession. In others, the jobs lost have already been regained.

Where Are the Job Openings Focused?

Among the broad occupational groups, health care (+19%) and construction (+16%) top the list for fastest-growing by 2027. Service occupations (which include protective services, building and grounds cleaning, personal appearance workers, funeral service workers, and more) rank first in most job openings. Service occupations made up 18 percent of the jobs in 2017 and are projected to comprise 20 percent of the openings over the decade.
Over this period most job openings are projected due to the need to replace workers leaving their occupations. Nine out of 10 total job openings (2.4 million) are expected to be due to the need to replace workers who retire, leave the labor force for other reasons, or make a major occupational change, with the remaining openings due to new or expanding businesses. Replacements overshadow growth openings in all broad occupational categories.

Detailed Occupations

Occupations expected to have the most job openings include retail salespersons, cashiers, food preparation workers, waiters and waitresses, and personal care and service workers.

In terms of fastest-growing, eleven of the top 20 fastest-growing occupations are either health care practitioners or health care support workers. They include physician and medical assistants, home health aides, nurse practitioners, veterinarians and veterinary assistants, physical and massage therapists, and other health diagnosing and treating practitioners. Aging baby boomers are helping to fuel much of the growth in health care occupations along with longer life expectancies and growing rates of chronic conditions.

Other top growing occupations are related to computers and math – software developers, information security analysts, operations research analysts, and statisticians. On the other end of the scale, employment levels among several occupations are expected to decline, including parking enforcement workers, executive and legal secretaries, bank tellers, and postal workers.


A typical entry-level education level and a competitive education level are assigned to each occupation. Most of the high-demand jobs do not require education beyond high school. Think about how many retail sales workers, waiters and waitresses, and fast food workers work in the state. These and other occupations make up two-thirds of the state’s job openings that fall into the high school or less category for typical entry. Looking at the competitive education level assigned to each occupation, nearly half of the openings fall into the more than high school category, where education beyond high school will help job seekers be more competitive when applying for jobs.
Additional Information

Every two years, the Oregon Employment Department updates long-term employment projections to account for changes in the economy. The 2017 to 2027 statewide projections are produced for about 100 industries and 800 occupations.

All statewide and regional employment projections are available at QualityInfo.org in the Publications section. Look for the Employment Projections box.

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