Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Many More Job Vacancies Around the State in 2014

During 2014, Oregon’s private employers were looking to fill about 45,000 job vacancies at any given time, according to new annual figures from the Oregon Employment Department’s Job Vacancy Survey. The Job Vacancy Survey provides a snapshot of the labor market job seekers face. 

The number of job vacancies in 2014 increased by 40 percent compared with 2013. 

The average starting wage offered by employers also improved over the year, increasing by 4 percent to $15.67. The largest increase in vacancies was among jobs offering starting wages between $10 and $15 per hour. There were 15,200 vacancies in this range, up 72 percent from 2013. Vacancies offering more $15 per hour increased 29 percent to 11,900. There were slightly fewer vacancies offering less than $10 per hour in 2014. That’s partly because the increase in Oregon’s minimum wage from $8.95 in 2013 to $9.10 in 2014 narrowed that wage range.

One key to finding a job that pays higher than average wages is to have at least some postsecondary training or other work related qualification. The average wage offered for vacancies requiring education beyond high school was more than $17 per hour. Average wages increased for jobs requiring college degrees. The average hourly wage was $20 per hour for vacancies that required an associate degree, $31 per hour for a bachelor’s degree, and $38 for a graduate degree. Vacancies that did not require education beyond high school offered hourly wages of $12 per hour.

Employers also offered higher wages when their vacancies required more than a year of previous experience. Vacancies with no experience requirement paid an average of $11 per hour. Those requiring less than one year of experience paid $12 per hour. For vacancies that required one to five years of previous work experience, the average wage offered was $18 per hour, while those that required five or more years of experience averaged $32 per hour.

The health care and social assistance industry accounted for almost one-fifth of vacancies, more than any other industry sector. Four additional industries each accounted for more than 10 percent of Oregon job vacancies: management, administrative, and waste services (which includes company headquarters and temporary staffing agencies, among other businesses); retail trade; leisure and hospitality; and manufacturing.

Characteristics of job vacancies can vary significantly by industry. For example, nine out of 10 health care vacancies were for permanent positions, and 39 percent required education beyond high school. In natural resources and mining, however, just 18 percent of vacancies in 2014 were for permanent jobs, and only 3 percent required education beyond high school. The specific occupations being recruited make a big difference in how industry-level details play out – almost two-thirds of the natural resources and mining vacancies were for farmworkers, of which only 11 percent were permanent positions and most were seasonal. Health care recruitment was focused on registered nurses, nursing assistants, and medical assistants, which were almost always permanent positions.

Every region of the state had more vacancies in 2014 than in 2013. Eastern Oregon saw the greatest percentage growth in vacancies over the year, up 73 percent from 2013, and the Portland area followed, with 44 percent more vacancies in 2014 than in 2013. The Portland Tri-County area had just over 23,000 vacancies in 2014, 51 percent of the statewide total.  

The Oregon Job Vacancy Survey has been conducted since 2008. The 2014 estimates are based on responses from 10,400 Oregon employers. Vacancy survey results for the first quarter of 2015 are scheduled for release in April 2015. A special report on Oregon’s difficult-to-fill vacancies will be available later this spring.

For more details on statewide and regional vacancies, visit the “publications” tab on and scroll down to the section titled “Job Vacancy Survey.”

Employment Department economist Jessica Nelson discusses the vacancy survey release in the podcast below.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

February Unemployment Rate Decreases in All but One of Oregon’s Counties

Benton County had Oregon’s lowest seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in February at 4.7 percent. Grant County, the only county not to see a drop in February, registered the highest rate for the month at 10.1 percent. Twelve of Oregon’s counties had unemployment rates at or below the statewide rate of 5.8 percent and seven were at or below February’s national rate of 5.5 percent. Harney County saw the largest improvement in its unemployment rate over the year with a drop of 3.0 percentage points.

Total nonfarm payroll employment rose in all of Oregon’s six broad regions between February 2014 and February 2015. The largest job gains occurred in Central Oregon (4.5%) and Southern Oregon (+3.6%). The Willamette Valley (+3.0%), Portland (+2.6%), the Oregon Coast (1.8%), and Eastern Oregon (1.5%) also saw growth.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Oregon's January Unemployment Rate Decrease Largest in Nation

Yesterday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released January’s state-by-state unemployment figures. This comparison lets us know how Oregon matches up to the rest of nation’s states.

Over the month, Oregon’s unemployment rate decrease of 0.4 percentage point was more than any other state in the United States. Idaho, Maine, and Rhode Island followed with a decrease of 0.3 percentage point, and 10 states saw a decrease of 0.2 percentage point. Nineteen states saw a bigger over-the-year decrease than Oregon, which came in at 0.9 percentage point below its January 2014 rate.

State Employment Economist Nick Beleiciks says, “The large drop in Oregon’s January unemployment rate was the result of very strong job growth in recent months. More Oregonians are employed than ever before and the strength of the labor market is showing across the major indicators.”

Oregon's strong job growth over the year (3.3%) was sixth in the nation, tied with Washington, and just ahead of California (3.2%) and Idaho (3.1%). North Dakota (4.3%) saw the highest job growth among states between January 2014 and January 2015, followed by Utah (4.0%).

Over the month, Idaho’s 1.4 percent job growth was by far the highest in the nation. Oregon’s 0.4 percent job growth was the 11th highest.

While we don't have data on all states from February yet, we do have Oregon's February employment data, which can be found in our earlier blog post Oregon’s Unemployment Rate Falls to 5.8 Percent in February.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Oregon’s Unemployment Rate Falls to 5.8 Percent in February

Oregon’s unemployment rate fell to 5.8 percent in February, down from the 6.3 percent January rate. This was the second consecutive large drop in the unemployment rate (the rate was 6.7% in December), which now sits at its lowest since May 2008.

Oregon’s unemployment rate is now within three tenths of the U.S. rate, the smallest gap since October 2013. Notice below that the gap between the United States and Oregon rates had been increasing in the second half of 2014, but has declined sharply these last two months.

State Employment Economist Nick Beleiciks shared his take on this month’s figures. “It’s unusual to see the unemployment rate fall so fast, but not surprising because there has been so much job growth in recent months,” said Beleiciks.

Oregon added 2,400 nonfarm jobs in February, and between November and January added almost 20,000 jobs. February’s leading industries were leisure and hospitality (+2,100 jobs), along with health care and social assistance (+1,100 jobs).

For more on Oregon’s Employment Situation, read and watch today’s press release.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Population Growth Faster Among Minority Groups

Oregon's total population reached roughly 3.93 million in 2013, an increase of 10.8 percent (+383,000) since 2003. Among different race and ethnic groups, minority groups grew much faster than the statewide rate of 10.8 percent, and those reporting Hispanic ethnicity grew faster than non-Hispanics.

In 2013, 12.3 percent (483,758) of Oregonians were of Hispanic ethnicity, which was less than the 17.1 percent nationwide. This was, however, an increase from the 9.3 percent figure for the 2003 Oregon population. Over the same period, the entire Oregon Hispanic population grew by 47.1 percent.

Data from the Census Bureau's Population Estimates Program distinguish between race and ethnicity. In studying population trends in Oregon and across the United States, it is important to know that the term Hispanic is in reference to ethnicity. Identifying as a certain ethnicity is separate from race identification. For example, one who identifies as an American Indian can be of Hispanic or non-Hispanic ethnicity.

Race is broken into six major groups by the Census Bureau: White alone; Black or African American alone; Asian alone; American Indian and Alaska Native alone; Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander alone; and Two or More Races. Since White alone makes up the majority of the Oregon population, we refer to the other five categories as minority groups.

Here are the population counts by race for Oregon:

Fore more on Oregon's population, read the full article: Population Growth Faster Among Minority Group.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Oregon’s Unemployment Rate Lowest Since July 2008

Oregon’s unemployment rate fell to 6.3 percent in January from December 2014’s 6.7 percent. According to State Employment Economist Nick Beleiciks, “It’s been a really long time since unemployment was this low in Oregon. We have to go back to July 2008 for the last time Oregon’s unemployment rate was this low.”

The drop in the unemployment rate came from a decline in the number of unemployed individuals in Oregon. There were 124,000 unemployed in January, down more than 7,000 from December 2014, and more than 14,000 from one year ago.

Nonfarm employment rose by 7,600 in January 2015, the fourth time in five months Oregon has added more than 6,000 jobs. “Employers are adding a lot of jobs right now. In fact, employment is at record levels when you adjust for the time of year,” says Beleiciks.

A few more highlights from the Oregon Employment Department’s January 2015 press release:
  • Employment rose by 55,600 over the year, an increase of 3.3 percent.
  • Retail trade (+8,000 jobs or 4.1%); manufacturing (+7,000 jobs or 4.0%); transportation, warehousing, and utilities (2,600 jobs or 4.6%); and professional and business services (+13,100 jobs or 6.1%) all made significant gains over the year.
For more on Oregon's employment situation, view the latest Oregon Employment Department Press Release.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Consumer Price Index Declines Driven by Decrease in Gas Prices

The Consumer Price Index dropped by 0.7 percent in January 2015 on a seasonally adjusted basis. The all items index decrease was driven mostly by a decrease in gas prices, which fell 18.7 percent in January. In fact, if gas had not changed prices in January, the all items index would have increased by 0.1 percent for the month.

Over the year, the all items index fell by 0.1 percent. This marks the first time prices have fallen over the year since 2009.

For the full report on CPI, read the BLS' latest news release.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Oregon’s High-Tech Employment Trends – What Is High Tech?

The high-tech industry is a crucial and dynamic piece of Oregon's economy. In 2013, private-sector employment was more than 83,000 and contributed over $8 billion in covered payroll to the state's workers and families.

But what exactly is high tech? The high-tech industry does not have one standard definition or official government code. Instead, it is a mix of service and manufacturing businesses from a variety of industries. The definition used here at the Oregon Employment Department includes 11 industries such as semiconductor manufacturing, software publishers, and data processing.

High tech accounts for 6 percent of all covered private-sector employment statewide. High-tech firms are found all over the state but are most concentrated in large metropolitan areas like Portland, Eugene, Medford, and Bend.

Broadly speaking, high-tech employment is disproportionately male. Males account for 70 percent of employment and females just 30 percent, compared with 53 percent and 47 percent respectively across all industries. This also reflects national trends.

High-tech workers are more likely to be of "prime working age," which is generally defined as ages 25 to 54. Seventy-six percent fall into this age group, compared with 66 percent of workers across all industries. 

At the industry level, average wages in high tech are some of the highest in the state. In 2013, its average wage was more than $96,000. During the past five years, average high-tech inflation-adjusted wages have grown by 8.2 percent, compared with 2.7 percent for all industries.

Looking at the industry's leading occupations, average wages are highest for architectural and engineering managers ($137,093), computer and information systems managers ($111,367), and systems software developers ($100,724). Wages are lowest for the industry's electrical and electronic equipment assemblers ($34,492), secretaries and administrative assistants ($34,810), and semiconductor processors ($34,882).

The Oregon Employment Department forecasts the high-tech industry will grow by 18 percent between 2012 and 2022, compared with 15 percent growth across all industries. The future is particularly promising for the industry's service sectors, where growth is expected to be even faster.

For more information about this growing, generally well-paying industry, check out Jill Cuyler-Crook's full article -- "Oregon’s High-Tech Employment Trends – What is High Tech?"

Monday, February 23, 2015

Department of Homeland Security Employment in Oregon

Congress is working on passing a Department of Homeland Security funding bill before February 27. Without funding, the Department could begin a partial shutdown. 

Although most Homeland Security employees would continue to work during a partial shutdown, we have been asked about the number and types of Department of Homeland Security jobs in Oregon. In Oregon, almost 1,000 people were employed by the Department of Homeland Security. The bulk of this employment was in Multnomah County for the Transportation Security Administration. 

For more information on Department of Homeland Security funding, see DHS Budget.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Oregon's Unemployment Rate Drops for those in 'Prime Working Years'

Oregon's 2014 unemployment rate dropped to 7.1%, a decline of 0.8 percentage point from 2013. The rate didn't decline evenly across age groups, however.
  • The unemployment rate in the 16-24 age group increased 0.1 percentage point. 
  • The 25-54 group ('prime working years') saw the largest decline (-1.5) in its unemployment rate.
  • Those 55 and older saw the largest increase in their unemployment rate (+0.7).
To learn more about the high unemployment rate for those in the 16-24 group, read the Oregon Employment Department's Endangered: Youth in the Labor Force.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Oregon’s Part-Time Workers: Nearly One-Quarter of Employment in 2014

In 2014, nearly one-quarter of employed Oregonians usually worked part-time schedules. A part-time worker is a person who usually works fewer than 35 hours per week. About 77 percent of Oregon’s total employment was usually working full time in 2014.

People work part time for a variety of reasons. Part-time jobs offer flexibility for some who seek a job that fits their circumstances, such as students, those looking for additional income from seasonal work, or a spouse in a household with young children. Such groups are generally considered the “voluntary part-time employed.” By contrast, the “involuntary part-time employed.” are people working part-time schedules because they can’t find full-time employment or have had their hours cut at work from a usual full-time schedule down to a part-time schedule.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

How is the Unemployment Rate Calculated?

The unemployment rate attracts a lot of attention as a key indicator of Oregon’s economy, but what goes into this figure?

Click on the chart below to read about the official unemployment rate.

There are a number of other measures of labor underutilization as well. This includes the U-6 rate, which includes workers that are employed part time for economic reasons, but would rather have a full time job. Read more about Oregon's alternative measures in Tracy Morrissette's article: Alternative Measures of Labor Underutilization for Oregon.