Succession Plans: Low Growth Industries with Lots of Job Openings

by Henry Fields

January 21, 2022

The Oregon Employment Department projects total job growth in Oregon of 16% between 2020 and 2030. That translates to about 317,600 new jobs, and although this represents a historically high job growth rate, it accounts for the sharp employment dip as a result of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, and the subsequent economic recovery.

These new jobs are only one element of our future workforce needs, however. Every sector will lose workers to retirements or career changes, and those workers will need to be replaced. In fact, growth is a relatively small part of the picture. Replacement job openings make up around 87% of all job opening opportunities during the next decade. For every growth opening, there will be six openings due to worker replacements – more than 2.1 million openings statewide.

Even industries that aren’t projected to grow at all will still have many job opportunities available. No matter what career or field you’re interested in, employers will need many more workers as their current workforce decides to retire or change careers.

Let’s take a look at some slower-growing industries and what kind of replacement needs they will have in the years to come. A wide range of industries will grow more slowly than average, from natural resources and manufacturing to retail trade and government. In every one of these slower growing sectors there will be substantial opportunity to enter the field because of replacement needs. This is even true in the sector – federal government – that is projected to decline in total employment.
Many replacements are due to worker retirements. The workforce is aging in the U.S. and Oregon, and while workers are staying in the workforce later in life than in previous generations, older workers are still very likely to retire and exit the workforce. For more on this topic specifically, see this article on the aging of the workforce in Oregon

Several slow-growth industries have an older than average workforce, especially natural resources and mining, real estate, and utilities, where approximately 30% of industry workers are 55 and older.

In addition to retirements, additional opportunities will be created by “transfers” – workers who leave one field for another. The projections capture movement out of an occupational field, not between jobs in the same field (for example, a bartender leaving a job to start at a different bar is not a transfer). Higher turnover industries, such as retail, nevertheless have many more transfer openings over the 10-year period.

There are many ways to explore this data for yourself to find out more. You can find the regional and statewide industry projections on our Publications page to learn about what’s projected in your area. We also produce 10-year projections for individual occupations all across the state, which you can access on the publications page or through the Occupation Profiles report.

Let’s look at a specific example. Power Plant Operators are a high-wage occupation that is vital to the slow-growth utility industry. The median wage in Oregon is an enticing $50 an hour, but the job is relatively small and expected to decline 8.3%, meaning there will only be roughly two fewer job openings per year across the state. The declining number of growth openings might discourage people from considering this lucrative and important career. However, consider that we project there to be 17 additional openings per year due to replacement needs on average. There are dozens of similar examples.

You can also find more information on specific slow-growth sectors and the trends affecting them on, such as these recent articles on manufacturing and retail trade.

Planning for future workforce needs, whether for your business or your future career, depends on good information and reliable data. With the tools available at, you can prepare yourself for success, even in industries that aren’t leading the growth in new jobs.

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