Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Oregon's Current Workforce Gaps and Future Workforce Needs

Continued job growth and record low unemployment are making it difficult for Oregon businesses to fill current vacancies, and Oregon’s economy is expected to create 263,000 total job openings each year through 2027. These are the findings of two new reports released by the Oregon Employment Department. One report is based on a survey of businesses that is designed to measure Oregon’s current workforce gaps. The other is based on economic trends and forecasts, and is designed to predict Oregon’s future workforce needs.

Oregon businesses had 60,700 job vacancies at any one time during 2017. According to businesses, 38,700 (64%) of these vacancies were difficult to fill. This was the largest number of vacancies and share of difficult-to-fill vacancies since the job vacancy survey began in 2013.

A lack of applicants was the most common challenge filling vacancies. Nearly one out of every three (30%) difficult-to-fill job vacancies had an insufficient number of applicants or no applicants at all. Employers reported difficulty filling at least some job openings for 354 different occupations. Those with the largest number of difficult-to-fill vacancies included truck drivers, carpenters, personal care aides, construction laborers, farmworkers, and restaurant cooks. Hiring challenges are affecting all areas and all industries in Oregon.

Businesses' relatively strong demand for workers should continue through 2027. Oregon's total employment is projected to grow by 12 percent, with a total of 246,000 new jobs and an annual average of 263,000 total job openings.

All private sectors are expected to add jobs. Private health care and social assistance will lead all industries in new job growth, accounting for one out of every five new jobs in Oregon by 2027. This can be attributed to continued growth and aging of the state's population. Oregon's second-fastest growing industry will be construction. Demand from both population and economic growth, and currently low residential inventory and low commercial vacancy rates across many areas of the state should lead construction employment to rise by 17 percent.

Want to see how your occupation will fare between 2017 and 2027? Check out this interactive display of total projected openings for hundreds of occupations statewide.

All areas of Oregon expect to see job opportunities due to both economic growth and to replace workers leaving the labor force or making major occupational changes. The two regions projected to grow faster than the statewide rate are Central Oregon (15%) and the Portland area (13%).
A wealth of additional information can be found in the full report about Oregon's current workforce gaps, written by State Employment Economist Nick Beleiciks. More employment projections details and interactive graphs are available at

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