Winter 2022 Hiring Among Oregon’s Private Employers

by Anna Johnson

April 18, 2022

Each quarter, the Oregon Employment Department surveys private employers from all industries and areas of the state to ask about the job vacancies they are actively trying to fill. Oregon businesses reported 100,100 job vacancies in winter 2022. Total job openings decreased 3% from the fall and increased 82% from winter 2021. The large volume of openings in the winter follows three record quarters: 97,800 in spring 2021, 107,000 vacancies in summer 2021, and 102,900 vacancies in fall 2021.

Pre-pandemic, the record high for Oregon was 66,600 vacancies in summer 2017. The high level of job vacancies is not unique to Oregon right now. The number of private-sector job openings in the U.S. totaled 10,560,000 in July 2021, 10,684,000 in October 2021 and 10,166,000 in January 2022, beating the previous high seen in April 2019 (7,031,000) significantly.

The unemployed-to-vacancy ratio reached near record lows in winter 2022, as the economy continued to recover from the COVID-19 recession. The number of unemployed has declined swiftly since surging in spring 2020 with layoffs related to the pandemic, both in Oregon and across the United States. Nationally, unemployment increased by 16 million between January 2020 and April 2020, when the number of unemployed in the U.S. reached 22.5 million. The number of private-sector job openings in the U.S., as measured by the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, fell by 1.8 million between January 2020 and April 2020, resulting in a ratio of more than five unemployed people for every job opening. As pandemic spikes and restrictions have eased, by January 2022 job openings in the U.S. rose to 10.2 million and the number of unemployed sank to 7.2 million, resulting in a ratio of 0.7 unemployed people per job opening (or seven unemployed persons per 10 job vacancies).

In Oregon, the ratio shot even higher in spring 2020 as the number of unemployed surged,  resulting in 6.0 unemployed people for every job vacancy, similar to the ratio measured in early 2013 as the state was recovering from the Great Recession. However, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic was very swift, rapidly spreading across the labor market and taking the economy essentially from full employment to deep recession in just a couple of months. The ratio has steadily improved since the initial spike in spring 2020. In January 2022, the number of unemployed Oregonians dropped more and the number of job vacancies rose significantly, leaving one unemployed person per job opening.
Most openings in the winter were for full-time, permanent positions. Education beyond high school was required for 23% of winter vacancies. A majority of employers in almost every industry reported their vacancies as difficult to fill. Overall, 71% of vacancies were considered difficult to fill.

The average starting wage reported in winter was $19.90, a 2.5% inflation-adjusted decrease from winter 2021. Total vacancies were up 82% from the level last winter. The number of vacancies offering a starting wage below $15 per hour remained flat over the year. The number of vacancies offering between $15 and $25 per hour more than doubled (+146%) and vacancies paying above $25 per hour increased 88%.
Hiring demand was widespread throughout industries and occupations. Leisure and hospitality topped the industry list in winter, with 20,200 vacancies. The health care and social assistance industry had the second most vacancies of any industry, with 17,300 job vacancies. Five industries had more than 9,000 vacancies in the winter: leisure and hospitality, health care and social assistance, manufacturing (10,000), retail trade (9,700), and construction (9,200).

Employers reported vacancies in over 240 different occupations. The occupations with the most vacancies in winter 2022 included retail salespersons, restaurant cooks, nursing assistants, construction laborers, and fast food and counter workers.
Winter vacancies were distributed across the state, with the Portland tri-county area accounting for about 38%. Vacancies increased over the year in every region of the state, with the largest gains in Lane County and the East Cascades region.
More details about Oregon Job Vacancies are available on QualityInfo.org, on the publications page under Job Vacancy Survey.

 


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