Succession Plans: Low Growth Industries with Lots of Job Openings

by Henry Fields

December 9, 2020

The Oregon Employment Department projects total job growth in Oregon of 9% between 2019 and 2029. That translates to about 180,000 new jobs.

These new jobs are only one element of our future workforce needs, however. Every sector will lose workers to retirements or career changes, and those workers will need to be replaced.

In fact, growth is a relatively small part of the picture. Replacement job openings make up around 90% of all job opening opportunities during the next decade. For every growth opening, there will be 14 openings due to worker replacements – more than 2.5 million openings statewide.

Even industries that aren’t projected to grow at all will still have many job opportunities available. No matter what career or field you’re interested in, employers will need many more workers as their current workforce decides to retire or change careers.

Let’s take a look at some slower-growing industries and what kind of replacement needs they will have in the years to come. A wide range of industries will grow more slowly than average, from natural resources and manufacturing to retail trade and government. The table below shows all these slower-growing sectors.
In every one of these slower growing sectors there will be substantial opportunity to enter the field because of replacement needs. This is even true in the two sectors – finance and insurance and the federal government – that are projected to decline in total employment.

Many replacements are due to worker retirements. The workforce is aging in the U.S. and Oregon, and while workers are staying in the workforce later in life than in previous generations, older workers are still very likely to retire and exit the workforce. For more on this topic specifically, see this article on the aging of the workforce in Oregon.

Several slow-growth industries have an older than average workforce, especially natural resources, real estate, and government, where 30% of workers are 55 and older.

In addition to retirements, additional opportunities will be created by “transfers” – workers who leave one field for another. The projections capture movement out of an occupational field, not between jobs in the same field (for example, a bartender leaving a job to start at a different bar is not a transfer). Higher turnover industries, such as retail, nevertheless have many more transfer openings over the 10-year period.

There are many ways to explore this data for yourself to find out more. You can find the regional and statewide industry projections on our Publications page to learn about what’s projected in your area. We also produce 10-year projections for individual occupations all across the state, which you can access on the publications page or through the Occupation Profiles report.

Let’s look at a specific example. Electrical power-line installers and repairers are a high-wage occupation that is vital to the slow-growth utility industry. The median wage in Oregon is an enticing $47 an hour, but the job is relatively small and expected to grow at only 5%, meaning there will only be on average five growth openings per year across the state. The low number of growth openings might discourage people from considering this lucrative and important career. However, consider that we project there to be 88 additional openings per year due to replacement needs on average. There are dozens of similar examples, even in careers that will employ fewer people in 2029 than they did in 2019.

You can also find more information on specific slow-growth sectors and the trends affecting them on, such as these recent articles on manufacturing and retail trade.

Planning for future workforce needs, whether for your business or your future career, depends on good information and reliable data. With the tools available at, you can prepare yourself for success, even in industries that aren’t leading the growth in new jobs.

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