Who is hiring in Oregon?

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By Ken Niezgoda, BIZ Reporter

Hiring remains strong in several Portland area industries, even as recession grips the region.

The health care industry continues to hire despite state unemployment rates that have exceeded eight percent. However, the industry is hiring more than just medical professionals. Administrative staff, IT, and other non-medical positions are opening in the recession-resistant health care arena.

“It’s not just nursing positions,” said one senior recruiting manager for a national staffing agency based in Portland. “When you think about it, all the medical information has to be processed and downloaded. When a doctor comes in to the room now, he always has his laptop.”

Industries providing basics, such as food and shelter, continue to post jobs, as does the legal profession. Pat Welch, owner of Boly Welch Staffing Services in Portland, said her business is still strong despite higher unemployment, adding that she’s not laying off any of her people.

“What we find in the tough times is that people get really scared,” said Welch, who started her agency in Portland more than 20 years ago with Diane Boly. “Direct hiring is down, but temp hiring is strong. People still need to get the work done.”

Tom Szambelan of Portland-based Employers Overload believes the challenging job market does offer some opportunities. With the wealth of talent that is now seeking employment, Szambelan said it is easier for his firm to help companies become more efficient and productive.

“It is obviously a more challenging environment, no question about it,” said Szambelan. “But if part of the solution is adding the right person to an existing team, then the talent is available.”

While hiring in some traditional business sectors has dropped off, the emergence of renewable energy is expected to bring with it millions of jobs. There are currently 8.5 million so-called Green Collar Jobs nationwide, according to a report issues by the non-profit American Solar Energy Society. The ASES expects that number to grow to 40 million jobs nationwide by the year 2030.

Several Portland area recruiting managers echoed the opinion that Oregon’s pro-environment reputation will land it more than a fair share of these jobs. Green industry jobs are expected to open up for staff and support positions as well as for energy professionals. Recruiters also hope to see an increase in hiring for businesses impacted by Federal stimulus dollars in as early as the first quarter of 2009.