Moderate Growth with Ample Opportunity: Projected Occupational Openings in Southwestern Oregon

by Kale Donnelly

March 6, 2017

With the ever-changing labor market and the uncertainty that follows, it is often advantageous to take a look at what lies beyond the horizon. The Employment Department’s occupational projections aim to accomplish that very same endeavor. According to the latest set of projections for the 10-year period from 2014 to 2024, the overall net increase in jobs for Coos, Curry, and Douglas counties totals to 4,782. This is the number of projected jobs in 2024 minus the number of jobs in 2014. However, looking at the number of job openings we see a different picture. With the addition of more than 5,000 growth openings and 16,000 replacement openings, the total number of job openings in the Southwestern Oregon region is forecasted at 21,231 jobs by year 2024 – almost four and a half times the net change in employment between 2014 and 2024.

Growth openings are newly created jobs in response to an increase in demand for a specific occupation. Replacement openings occur when a worker leaves an occupation, thus creating a vacancy to be filled by another worker. This includes workers who retire, leave the industry or specific occupational field, or move out of the area. While replacement openings are a subset of turnover openings, not all turnovers result in a replacement opening. A worker moving laterally from one company to another in the same position and same area would not create a replacement opening.

In spite of the moderate forecast for the net increase in jobs, job seekers in Southwestern Oregon can expect ample job opportunities with the 20,000 plus projected job openings in the next 10 years. While service occupations are expected to have the largest number of total projected openings, the occupations with the highest relative amount of growth openings are in construction and extraction; health care; and production occupations with 39.3 percent, 31.1 percent, and 30.1 percent growth, respectively. Occupation groups seeing the highest share of replacement openings are office and administrative; professional and related; and sales and related occupations with an 81.7 percent, 80.2 percent, and 79.1 percent share of total openings, respectively. Occupations with a high rate of replacement openings can often be used as a signal to the younger workforce population. Not only are the occupations with the most replacement openings well-established (at least long enough to produce retirees), but they also show a larger outflow of positions needing to be filled.

No matter what the labor market conditions are, workers with the right combination of knowledge, skills, experience, and education are going to be the most competitive for the job openings to come.

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