Rogue Valley Job Vacancies in 2019

by Guy Tauer

February 18, 2020

According to the Oregon Employment Department’s 2019 Job Vacancy Survey, there were 4,134 vacancies in the Rogue Valley last year, down from 4,966 estimated vacancies in 2018. A perennial leader again in 2019 was heavy and tractor trailer truck drivers, with 310 vacancies. Despite the “retail apocalypse” headlines in the media, and subdued local growth in the retail trade industry, the occupation with the second greatest number of vacancies was retail salesperson at 149 vacancies last year.

Occupations found in the leisure and hospitality industry had many vacancies including restaurant cooks, fast food and counter workers servers, dishwashers and food preparation workers. This group of occupations doesn’t show very many openings in another source of labor demand, the Help Wanted Online (HWOL) data that we publish. But many of these service-sector occupations are under-represented in online job postings. Data from our job vacancy survey captures information on vacancies that don’t have many online job vacancies posted. No single data set usually has perfect information – using as many resources as are available can help paint a more accurate picture.

Job vacancies by industry shows those same trends; the leisure and hospitality industry had the most vacancies, accounting for about one out of six Rogue Valley vacancies in 2019. Health care and social assistance had about one out of seven of the total vacancies last year. Retail trade and construction each represented about 11 percent of total vacancies.
As you might surmise, job vacancies that required additional education also had higher average hourly wages. Vacancies requiring a high school diploma or with no education requirement had the lowest wages, $16.11 and $14.84, respectively. Occupations requiring postsecondary education or other certifications had an average wage of $23.71 while those requiring a bachelor’s or advanced degree averaged $32.15 per hour. Full-time positions were also more common in occupations requiring more education. Previous experience requirements were also associated with greater educational requirements. Only one-half of jobs that had no education requirement required prior job experience. On the other hand, about 96 percent of vacancies that required a bachelor’s degree or more also required previous experience.
About two-thirds of all Rogue Valley vacancies were deemed difficult to fill by employers responding to the survey. Vacancies with greater educational requirements were also more difficult to fill. Vacancies with post-secondary or other certification education requirements were difficult to fill about four-fifths of the time, while three-quarters of vacancies requiring a bachelor’s degree or advanced degree were difficult to fill.
Just over one-quarter of Rogue Valley vacancies didn’t require any prior experience. For the remainder of vacancies, between one year and five years was the most common level of experience required in 2019 with about 40 percent of all vacancies.

Just more than 30 percent of vacancies would be considered current vacancies, meaning the job has been open for less than 30 days. On the other extreme, close to the same share of vacancies are “always open” according to survey respondents. Does that mean that they just can’t ever find anyone to fill that opening, or is turnover so high that they always continue to recruit applicants for those openings, or do they just keep the position open to fill their stack of resumes of potential job seekers? That would be an interesting topic for more research.
The well-worn mantra “Education Pays” continues to hold true in our recent job vacancy survey data. The more sobering takeaway from this job vacancy survey is the low percentage of Rogue Valley job vacancies requiring those higher levels of education that are associated with higher average pay. One-quarter of total vacancies had no educational requirement and another 38 percent required only a high school diploma. Just one-third of Rogue Valley job vacancies required education beyond high school in 2019. Postsecondary or other certification was a requirement for 1,043 vacancies, or 25 percent. A bachelor’s degree or other advanced degree was required for less than 300 Rogue Valley vacancies in 2019, or about 7 percent of total vacancies last year. For Oregon overall, only about one-third of all vacancies required education beyond high school in 2019 as well.

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