Monday, October 5, 2015

Help Wanted in Oregon: 43,000 Job Vacancies this Summer

Today the Oregon Employment Department published the latest quarterly estimates of job vacancies for Oregon and nine sub-state areas.

Oregon's privately owned businesses reported 43,000 job vacancies this summer. As is normally the case, health care and social assistance had the largest number of vacancies (8,300). Leisure and hospitality and retail trade -- two big summer hiring industries -- also reported large numbers of vacancies. Some occupations with the most job openings in these industries included nursing assistants, registered nurses, personal care aides, retail salespersons, cashiers, and cooks.

"Middle wage" jobs were on the rise. The number of job vacancies that paid between $15 and $25 per hour rose sharply compared with last summer.

Businesses also reported greater difficulty filling vacancies this summer. Almost two-thirds (65%) of vacancies were difficult to fill this summer; since 2013 the difficult-to-fill share has generally been closer to one-half of all vacancies.

The number of unemployed Oregonians rose slightly over the summer, while the number of job vacancies pulled back from a record high in the spring. As a result, the ratio of unemployed persons to vacancies rose from 2-to-1 in the spring back to 3-to-1 in the summer. Oregon's unemployed-to-vacancy ratio was also 3-to-1 for most of 2014. Nationwide there are two unemployed persons per job vacancy.

The geographic area from Portland to Eugene accounted for roughly seven out of 10 vacancies in the summer. That's in line with the area's shares of statewide population and statewide employment. Sub-state vacancy totals can be seen by clicking on the bars in the graph below.

More information about Oregon's job vacancies can be found in the Job Vacancy Survey category on the publications page at

Friday, October 2, 2015

September Jobs Up Nationwide, Unemployment Rate Steady

The nation added 142,00 jobs in September 2015 while the unemployment rate held steady at 5.1 percent. This month's growth comes in below the 12-month average of 229.000 jobs added.

“National job growth is looking good, but not great like it did earlier in the year," says State Employment Economist Nick Beleiciks. 

Jobs saw huge growth near the end of 2014 and in the beginning of 2015. See the graph below for more details.

"Most of the major sectors are continuing along their growth paths, but low oil prices are leading to severe job losses in the mining sector.”

The mining sector has seen losses of 102,000 jobs since its peak in December of 2015.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Average Hourly Wages on the Rise

After years of remaining flat, average hourly wages (adjusted for inflation) have risen in 2015. In August 2015, average hourly wages in Oregon were $23.42, up from $23.16 in August 2014.

This comes in part from essentially no change in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) over the year, which was held down by a 12-month decrease in gas prices of 23.3 percent.

Below, find the 12-month change in price for certain items in the Consumer Price Index. Note the steep drop in gas prices, compared with the more stable change in all items.

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

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Oregon's Aging Workforce: A Look by Industry and County

Oregon’s workforce is aging. The number of Oregon jobs held by workers age 55 and over nearly tripled from 1992 to 2014 (see animation below), while the total number of jobs grew by just over one-third. Workers 55 and over held just 10 percent of the jobs in 1992, increasing their share to 23 percent of all jobs by 2014. Driving this trend is the fact that much of the Baby Boom Generation is now 55 and over, and they are more likely to be in the labor force than previous generations were at this age. Even so, many of these workers are probably planning to retire in the next 10 years, taking their skills and experience with them.

Although the aging workforce is a general demographic trend, it impacts employers, industries, or regions to varying degrees. Employers should know the age profile of their own workforce so they can plan accordingly for increased turnover from retirees. At a broader level, workforce planners need to know the demographic profiles of entire industries and regions to help gauge the need for future replacement workers.

The pace of retirements will likely be faster in industries that have an older workforce profile. Industry age profiles vary from the relatively young accommodation and food services sector where just 14 percent of workers are 55 and older to the relatively old mining and quarrying sector where 33 percent of workers are 55 and older. Although utilities and mining have high concentrations of older workers, they employ fewer workers and will require relatively few replacement workers. Some employers within these industries may struggle to find enough suitable workers if they don’t plan ahead.

Industries that stand out in sheer size and share of workers 55 and over are health care and social assistance (both private and public) and educational services (again, both private and public). These two sectors combined employ one out of four workers age 55 and over. Employers in these and in all other industries need to plan for how they are going to attract replacement workers, especially for jobs that require significant training.

Rural county workforces tend to have a higher share of older workers and will feel the impact of the aging workforce more than metro counties. In counties outside metropolitan areas, more than one out of four (27%) workers is 55 years or older. That represents more than 60,000 workers in rural Oregon who are probably hoping to retire within the next decade.

Read more about the demographic trends by industry in Oregon's counties in the full article, Oregon’s Aging Workforce by Industry and County, 2014, written by Nick Beleiciks.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Oregon's Minimum Wage Will Remain at $9.25 in 2016

Oregon's minimum wage rate will remain unchanged at $9.25 per hour in 2016. The state's minimum wage is linked to inflation and is adjusted on January 1st in most years. Since inflation was little changed over the last year, the minimum wage rate will not increase in 2016.

The last time Oregon saw no change in the minimum wage was in 2010. Inflation declined over the year, so the state's minimum wage remained at $8.40 in both 2009 and 2010.

Oregon had the second-highest state minimum wage in 2015, behind Washington (the District of Columbia and some cities also had a higher minimum wage). Oregon's 2016 rate will remain lower than Washington's minimum wage -- which will remain unchanged at $9.47 per hour -- but above the federal minimum wage rate, which rose to $7.25 per hour on July 24, 2009 and has stayed there since. The federal minimum wage is not adjusted annually for inflation.
According to unemployment insurance data, Oregon had roughly 100,200 jobs paying $9.25 per hour or less in the first quarter of 2015. This constitutes 5.3 percent of all jobs covered by Oregon's unemployment insurance program. Leisure and hospitality had the highest number with 41,600 jobs paying $9.25 or less, and retail trade followed with 21,800 jobs. Industries in which a substantially larger-than-average share of jobs paid $9.25 per hour or less include leisure and hospitality, retail trade, and natural resources and mining.

For more information about minimum-wage jobs by industry, contact State Employment Economist Nick Beleiciks (who also wrote this summary!).

Note: The inflation-adjustment to 2016 comes from the Office of Economic Analysis inflation forecast.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Oregon Experiencing Fast Job Growth, Unemployment Rate Increases

Jobs continued to grow in Oregon in August, increasing by almost 4,400, following a revised gain of 7,400 in July. In August, two major industries gained the most jobs: leisure and hospitality added 2,100, and government added 1,600. The other 12 major industries performed close to their normal seasonal patterns.

Over the past 12 months, Oregon’s payroll employment has expanded by 60,400 jobs, or 3.5 percent. This is the state’s fastest job growth rate since February 2005.

Despite strong job gains, Oregon’s unemployment rate edged up to 6.1 percent in August from 5.9 percent in July. However, the unemployment rate continues to be lower than last year (6.9% in August 2014).

"The unemployment rate in August continued this summer’s upward trend, which was caused by a larger than usual number of people joining the labor force as unemployed," according to state employment economist Nick Beleiciks. "Employers are adding jobs at full speed, so many of these job seekers should be able to find work soon."

For more information, read August's employment situation.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Wages at Entry, Median, and Experienced Levels in Oregon's Workforce Areas

Each year we publish Oregon Wage Information (OWI), which provides wages for more than 700 occupations in Oregon.

In addition to providing average wages, the OWI tables also provide a range of wages -- from the 10th percentile to the 25th, 50th (median), 75th, and 90th percentile -- for each occupation. These wage range percentiles give data users a good handle on typical pay for entry-level workers at one end and for experienced workers at the other end.

For example, forensic science technicians earn an average of $29.43 per hour. The median (50th percentile) hourly wage for forensic science technicians in Oregon is $30.28. At the low end (10th percentile), they earn $19.42 per hour and at the high end (90th percentile), they earn $37.89 per hour.

The chart provides a look at wages by geographical area rather than occupation. The blue bars start and end at the 10th and 90th percentiles, and the median wage is indicated. While jobs in some occupations certainly pay outside of these ranges (e.g., minimum wage jobs or jobs in high-level executive occupations), the bulk of occupational wages fall in these ranges.

The southwestern corner of Oregon, which includes Coos, Curry, and Douglas counties, shows the lowest median hourly wage ($14.88) in 2015. Meanwhile the Portland Metro area, made up of Multnomah and Washington counties, has the highest median hourly wage ($19.48). Only Clackamas County and the Portland Metro workforce areas report a higher median wage than Oregon statewide.

You can find more information (and Excel tables!) with OWI data at in the Oregon Wage Information box on the Publications Page.

Employment and Wages at Small and Large Firms in Oregon

Each year the Employment Department publishes information about the size of firms in Oregon. Nine out of 10 private-sector firms in Oregon had fewer than 20 employees in March 2015. Six out of 10 employed fewer than five.

Despite their quantity, smaller firms collectively account for a much smaller share of overall employment than their larger counterparts. For example, the 59 percent of firms with one to four employees represented about 8 percent of covered employment and 6 percent of wages in March 2015. On the other hand, the 0.3 percent of firms with at least 500 employees accounted for 27 percent of private-sector jobs and 36 percent of wages.

These distributions tend to remain stable from one year to the next, even as the overall number of firms, employees, and wages expands or contracts. This doesn't mean that smaller firms are under performing when it comes to job creation, or that larger firms are experiencing a bonanza. Size of firm data does not provide us with information about the dynamics of job growth. Instead, it offers a snapshot that can help us understand the roles of small and large firms in Oregon's economy at a specific point in time.

Thanks to Phoebe Colman, our performance measures analyst, for this summary!

Friday, September 4, 2015

U.S. Payrolls Add 173,000 Jobs in August

This morning the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 173,000 in August, and the unemployment rate edged down to 5.1 percent.

According to the BLS, employment growth had averaged 247,000 per month over the prior 12 months. In August, job gains occurred in health care and social assistance and in financial activities. Employment in manufacturing and mining declined. 
The BLS reported health care and social assistance added 56,000 jobs in August. Health care employment increased by 41,000 over the month, with job growth occurring in ambulatory health care services (+21,000) and hospitals (+16,000). Employment rose by 16,000 in social assistance, which includes child day care services and services for the elderly and disabled. Over the year, employment has risen by 457,000 in health care and by 107,000 in social assistance.

Financial activities -- an industry that long lagged in employment gains -- added 19,000 jobs in August. Gains totaled 8,000 in real estate, while securities, commodity contracts, and investments added 5,000. Over the year, employment in financial activities has grown by 170,000.

Manufacturing employment decreased by 17,000 in August, after changing little in July (+12,000). Job losses occurred in a number of component industries, including fabricated metal products and food manufacturing (-7,000 each). Thus far in 2015, overall employment in manufacturing has shown little net change.

Employment in mining fell in August (-9,000), with losses concentrated in support activities for mining (-7,000). Since reaching a peak in December 2014, mining employment has declined by 90,000.

You can find more information and details about the unemployment rate in the full Employment Situation news release.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Difficulty Filling Job Vacancies: Lack of Applicants, Lack of Qualified Candidates, and Unfavorable Working Conditions

The Oregon Employment Department recently released a report on difficult-to-fill job vacancies across the state. Oregon businesses reported 45,400 job vacancies in 2014. Half (23,200 or 51%) of those job vacancies were difficult to fill.

For each of their difficult-to-fill vacancies, employers offered open-ended responses to identify the primary reason for the unfilled opening. Just three of these reasons accounted for almost two-thirds (65%) of all difficult-to-fill vacancies in Oregon during 2014: a lack of applicants (6,700 vacancies); a lack of qualified candidates (4,300); and unfavorable working conditions (3,400). Unfavorable working conditions included part-time, temporary, or on-call work shifts along with other conditions.

As educational requirements for vacancies increased, businesses faced less difficulty with a lack of applicants or unfavorable working conditions. Instead, as educational requirements increased, difficulty finding qualified candidates rose. Vacancies that required a high school diploma or less had a lack of applicants as the most frequently cited reason for difficulty. Those with bachelor’s or advanced degree requirements were more likely to have a lack of qualified candidates and less likely to have an overall lack of applicants.

Here's a more detailed look at differences in difficulty filling vacancies. We've broken down the data into occupational groups. The reasons for difficulty in the two health care categories reflect differences in educational requirement. Health care practitioner positions -- which include doctors and registered nurses -- are more likely to require a bachelor's or advanced degree. About two out of five of these vacancies (39%) were difficult to fill because of a lack of qualified candidates. On the other hand, health care support positions, such as personal care aides, generally did not require education beyond high school. These difficult-to-fill vacancies had slightly higher shares with a lack of applicants or unfavorable working conditions.

Management vacancies and farming, fishing, and forestry vacancies show an even more stark contrast. Nearly all management vacancies required at least a bachelor's degree. Nearly all farming, fishing, and forestry jobs required a high school diploma or less. While 5 percent of difficult-to-fill management vacancies had a lack of applicants, more than two-thirds (69%) of hard-to-fill farming, forestry, and fishing vacancies lacked applicants.

Average pay also rose as difficult-to-fill vacancies’ educational requirements increased. Hard-to-fill vacancies with a high school diploma or less paid an average of $12.84 per hour. That increased to $18.91 per hour for difficult-to-fill vacancies with postsecondary training requirements, and jumped to $33.86 for those requiring a bachelor’s or advanced degree.

If you'd like additional information about difficult-to-fill job vacancies in Oregon, check out the full report, or you can ask me!

Monday, August 24, 2015

How Many Jobs in Your County Pay Less Than $13 per Hour?

We regularly receive questions about how many jobs pay less than a certain hourly wage. This question often comes up in relation to the minimum wage or a self-sufficiency wage. Having data by county is particularly useful when looking at how many local jobs might be impacted by changes in the minimum wage (see for example Minimum-Wage Jobs a Smaller Share of Total in Metro Areas) or how many local jobs are at the self-sufficiency level for given type of household.

There were about 577,000 jobs that paid less than $13 per hour in the first quarter 2014. That was about 32 percent of all jobs. We picked $13 per hour for this blog post because we were asked about it recently, but we can look at other wage levels too. This interactive graph lets you see the share and number of jobs in $1 increments from the minimum wage or less ($9.10 per hour in first quarter 2014) to $20 per hour or more. Select any county to explore local wage distributions by the share of all jobs and by the number of jobs.

Note: A few mobile users operating with Apple iOS have experience issues with this chart. Please let us know if you are having issues and we'll be happy to get you any data or charts needed! Email at

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Computer Occupations in Oregon - More than Just Programmers

The Oregon Employment Department projects job openings for 721 occupations across the state. Of these 721, 13 are computer occupations. Between 2012 and 2022, there are expected to be almost 15,000 openings in computer occupations. Take a look here:

Notice the third occupation on the list, Computer Occupations, All Other. This is a sort of catch-all for occupations that don't fit into the other occupations on the list. Because these numbers come from survey data, it's not possible to break occupations down as specifically as we might like.

Using another source, Help Wanted Online Ads, we can break the Computer Occupations, All Other category into more specific occupations. In total, there were 1579 online ads placed or available for Computer Occupations, All Other between the second half of July and first half of August 2015. Here's what those ads look like in more detail:

More online ads were place for Computer Occupations, All Other than for any of the occupations on the first chart. Coming in second was Software Developers, Applications followed by Computer User Support Specialists.

Search open job listings for jobs that fall into this occupational category here: Computer Occupations, All Other.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Oregon Adds 4,600 Jobs in July and the Unemployment Rate Increases to 5.9 Percent

Payroll employment in Oregon rose at a brisk pace in July, adding 4,600 jobs. Five major industries added 1,000 jobs or more over the month, with construction (+2,300 jobs) and professional and business services (+1,700) adding the most.

Oregon’s unemployment rate rose to 5.9 percent in July from 5.5 percent in June. The rate, which is based primarily on data from the Current Population Survey, can be volatile at times. Oregon’s unemployment rate dropped dramatically in the early months of 2015 and has bumped back up a little in more recent months.

Despite the increase, Oregon’s unemployment rate was significantly below its year-ago figure of 7.0 percent in July 2014. Oregon’s rate remained close to the U.S. rate of 5.3 percent in July.

“Oregon’s job growth continued at a rapid pace in July,” said Nick Beleiciks, Oregon’s state employment economist. “We’re also seeing a large number of people entering the labor market or who are leaving their jobs voluntarily. They account for about half the increase in unemployment. Oregon’s economy is adding jobs so fast right now that many of them will find work quickly.”

Read the full press release and watch State Employment Economist Nick Beleiciks discuss this month’s employment situation: Oregon Employment Department Press Release.