The Replacements: Eastern Oregon Occupational Projections, 2017-2027

by Christopher Rich

August 13, 2018

Every two years, the Oregon Employment Department projects how employment will change over the next 10 years. We produce detailed occupational employment projections for Oregon as well as the nine local workforce areas, and even some smaller sub-regions. The recently released 2017-2027 projections show that overall industry growth of 10 percent will create more than 7,600 new jobs in Eastern Oregon (Baker, Grant, Harney, Malheur, Morrow, Umatilla, Union, and Wallowa) by 2027. Jobs created by growth, however, account for just a small portion of total expected vacancies in the coming years. The need to replace existing workers is expected to create more than 93,000 job openings over the next decade.

Plenty of Opportunities to Serve

When it comes to expected job openings, service occupations will provide the largest share. This broad occupational group represents nearly one quarter of all projected job openings from 2017 to 2027. Over 22,000 openings will come from the need to replace workers in this group. The replacement count represents vacancies created by workers who retire or exit the labor force for some other reason, and workers who leave their current occupations for unrelated occupations. It does not account for general occupational turnover in the labor market. Along with replacement openings, another 1,768 service openings will come from industry growth from new or expanding businesses.

Almost half of openings in the service group will come in food preparation and serving related occupations. The bulk of these (63%) are for waiters and waitresses; combined food preparation and serving workers; restaurant cooks; and counter attendants in places like cafeterias, concessions, and coffee shops. The service group, however, is not just about food and beverage. Many openings will come in other occupations in the group as well.

Personal care occupations will see 5,845 openings with 1,723 of these for personal care aides. Building, grounds cleaning, and maintenance occupations will see 4,632 openings. Slightly over half of these will be for janitors and cleaners. Protective service occupations will see 2,343 openings. Correctional facilities in Eastern Oregon are not expected to expand, but the need to replace workers will create a large number of openings for correctional officers and jailers (1,026). Other protective occupations such as firefighters (324) and police and sheriff’s patrol officers (273) will also see a large number of replacement openings.

The service group accounts for more than twice the number of openings expected in any other broad occupational group. Transportation and material moving occupations, office and administrative support occupations, and sales and related occupations are expected to see roughly 10,000 job openings apiece by 2027. The overwhelming majority of these openings will also come from the need to replace workers.
A High School Diploma Opens Half the Doors

Applicants meet the minimum education requirement for many occupations in Eastern Oregon even if they have less than a high school education. All told, roughly 80 percent of projected job openings are in occupations that require no more than a high school diploma and 42 percent of openings are projected in occupations that don’t even require a diploma. Occupations that don’t require at least a high school diploma tend to be low skill, low wage, and often times seasonal.

Some occupations, such as roofers, bartenders, and drywall installers can offer the potential for higher wages even without a diploma. Many occupations that have no diploma requirement and yet offer the potential for higher wages are projected to have comparatively few job openings in Eastern Oregon over the coming years. When these occupations do have openings, it can generate a large pool of applicants. This creates competition. Less than high school is not the competitive level of education for any occupation in Eastern Oregon. A high school diploma, on the other hand, is the competitive level of education for 56 percent of projected job openings over the next decade.

A higher level of education can transfer to greater potential for opportunity. Education post high school tends to open even more doors than a high school diploma. Nearly 7,000 job openings are projected in occupations that require some sort of postsecondary training (non-degree) as a minimum qualification. These occupations, which include truck drivers, many health care occupations, and certain installation, maintenance, and repair occupations, tend to offer higher wages. Furthermore, postsecondary training is not just the minimum qualification, but also the competitive level of education as well for 62 percent of these occupations. This is due to the large number of job openings and the comparatively small number of qualified applicants. Postsecondary training is the competitive level of education for one-fifth of all projected job openings in Eastern Oregon over the next ten years. Applicants with postsecondary training should also be competitive for job openings where a high school diploma is considered competitive, because they have surpassed that competitive level of education. In general, applicants with higher levels of education are more competitive in the job market.  
Download the Workbook

It’s important to remember that Eastern Oregon’s economy is unlikely to align perfectly with these employment projections over the next 10 years. This is one reason we update the projections every two years as more information becomes available. To see the complete occupational breakdown for Eastern Oregon and its two sub-regions, download the Eastern Oregon Occupational Employment Projections, 2017-2027 Excel workbook at


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