Spring 2022 Hiring Among Oregon’s Private Employers

by Anna Johnson

July 18, 2022

Each quarter, the Oregon Employment Department surveys private employers from all industries and areas of the state to ask about the job vacancies they are actively trying to fill. Oregon businesses reported 106,500 job vacancies in spring 2022. Total job openings increased 6% from the winter and increased 9% from spring 2021. The large volume of openings in the spring continues a string of record quarters. The number of vacancies surged in spring 2021 and vacancies have been between 97,000 and 107,000 for five quarters now.

Pre-pandemic, the record high for Oregon was 66,600 vacancies in summer 2017. The high level of job vacancies is not unique to Oregon right now. The number of private-sector job openings in the U.S. has been between 9.3 and 11.3 million since July 2021, beating the previous high seen in April 2019 (7.0 million) significantly.

The unemployed-to-vacancy ratio reached fresh record lows in spring 2022, as the economy continued to add jobs after the COVID-19 recession. The number of unemployed has declined swiftly since surging in spring 2020 with layoffs related to the pandemic, both in Oregon and across the United States. Nationally, unemployment increased by 16 million between January 2020 and April 2020, when the number of unemployed in the U.S. reached 22.5 million. The number of private-sector job openings in the U.S., as measured by the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, fell by 1.8 million between January 2020 and April 2020, resulting in a ratio of more than five unemployed people for every job opening. As pandemic spikes and restrictions have eased, by April 2022 job openings in the U.S. rose to 11.3 million and the number of unemployed sank to 5.5 million, resulting in a ratio of 0.5 unemployed people per job opening (or five unemployed persons per 10 job vacancies).

In Oregon, the ratio shot even higher in spring 2020 as the number of unemployed surged,  resulting in 6.0 unemployed people for every job vacancy, similar to the ratio measured in early 2013 as the state was recovering from the Great Recession. However, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic was very swift, rapidly spreading across the labor market and taking the economy essentially from full employment to deep recession in just a couple of months. The ratio has steadily improved since the initial spike in spring 2020. In April 2022, the number of unemployed Oregonians dropped more and the number of job vacancies stayed at record levels, leaving seven unemployed people for every 10 job openings.
Most openings in the spring were for full-time, permanent positions. Education beyond high school was required for 31% of spring vacancies. A majority of employers in almost every industry reported their vacancies as difficult to fill. Overall, 77% of vacancies were considered difficult to fill.

The average starting wage reported in spring was $21.36, a 7.0% inflation-adjusted increase from spring 2021. Total vacancies were up 9% from the level last spring. The number of vacancies offering a starting wage below $15 per hour dropped by 40% over the year. The number of vacancies offering between $15 and $25 per hour increased 35% and vacancies paying above $25 per hour increased 56%.
Hiring demand was widespread throughout industries and occupations. Leisure and hospitality topped the industry list in spring, with 24,000 vacancies. The health care and social assistance industry had the second most vacancies of any industry, with 20,400 job vacancies. Five industries had more than 9,000 vacancies in the spring: leisure and hospitality, health care and social assistance, other services (11,000), construction (9,600), and retail trade (9,400).

Employers reported vacancies in over 280 different occupations. The occupations with the most vacancies in spring 2022 included restaurant cooks, retail salespersons, personal care aides, maids and housekeeping cleaners, dishwashers, and waiters and waitresses.
Spring vacancies were distributed across the state, with the Portland tri-county area accounting for about 38%. Vacancies increased over the year in every region of the state, with the largest gains in the Mid-Valley region and Lane County.
More details about Oregon Job Vacancies are available on QualityInfo.org, on the publications page under Job Vacancy Survey.

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