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May 16, 2017

A Lack of Applicants in a Growing Economy

via Oregon Workforce and Economic Information
Oregon businesses reported 50,800 jobs vacancies at any given time in 2016. They reported nearly two-thirds (64%) of those job vacancies as difficult to fill. Four primary challenges accounted for three-fourths of all difficult-to-fill job vacancies: a lack of applicants (12,000 vacancies); a lack of qualified candidates (5,000); unfavorable working conditions (3,600); and low wages (2,700).

With unemployment near record lows and continued job growth, a lack of applicants posed the greatest challenge to employers. In 2016, two out of every five (38%) difficult-to-fill job vacancies, and almost one-fourth (23%) of all vacancies in Oregon had an insufficient number of applicants, or none at all.

In 2016, health care and social assistance employers reported the largest number of difficult-to-fill vacancies (7,300), and the largest number of total job vacancies (10,200). Health care often tops the industry list of job vacancies; it is a large industry that has experienced consistent job growth since at least 1990, regardless of economic conditions. Yet employers faced challenges filling job openings across the economy in 2016. The top occupations by number of difficult-to-fill vacancies included construction laborers, personal care aides, nursing assistants, restaurant cooks, truck drivers, retail salespersons, and production workers.

Oregon businesses reported difficulty filling 69 percent of vacancies that required previous work experience, while less than half (45%) of job openings with no previous work experience posed a challenge. This was also the case for many occupations; larger shares of job openings requiring previous work experience were difficult to fill than vacancies in the same occupation with no experience needed.

Businesses can expect the labor market to remain tight until either economic conditions or requirements for some vacancies — such as prior work experience or other characteristics — change.

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