Oregon's private employers had approximately 22,900 job vacancies during winter 2013, according to a Job Vacancy Survey recently completed by the Oregon Employment Department. During the same month there were 181,100 unemployed Oregonians, or roughly 8 unemployed people for each vacancy. The high ratio of unemployed to vacancies reflects the still-sluggish labor market, and the usual seasonal slowdown in hiring that occurs each winter.

This is the first time winter estimates of Oregon job vacancies have been available. As expected, the estimate for winter vacancies fell below the 31,200 vacancies estimated from the last survey in fall 2012. Other indicators of hiring and labor demand typically reach a low point in the winter.

Other findings of the winter 2013 survey were very similar to the fall 2012 survey. About the same share of vacancies required education beyond high school, at 34 percent. Almost three-fourths of vacancies required previous experience. Full-time positions accounted for more than seven out of ten vacancies, and 83 percent of reported vacancies were permanent positions.

The health care and social assistance industry accounted for 3,900 of the winter vacancies, making up 17 percent of all vacancies. The management, administrative, and waste services industry (which includes company headquarters and temporary staffing agencies, among other businesses) accounted for roughly 14 percent of the total, with more than 3,000 vacancies reported. Three other industries each accounted for about 10 percent of vacancies: professional, scientific, and technical services; leisure and hospitality; and manufacturing.

Three occupation groups had more than 2,000 vacancies: transportation and material moving; food preparation and serving; and office and administrative support.

Smaller employers, those with fewer than 20 employees, accounted for 30 percent of all vacancies compared with 29 percent at medium-sized employers (20-99 employees) and 42 percent at large employers (100+ employees).

The survey captured data for five sub-state regions: Northwest Oregon/Willamette Valley; the Portland Tri-County area; Southwestern Oregon; Central Oregon; and Eastern Oregon. The Portland Tri-County area had 10,706 vacancies, 47 percent of the statewide total - a percentage roughly equivalent to the area's share of total employment.

The Employment Department has moved to a quarterly Oregon Job Vacancy Survey, replacing the annual survey that has been in place since 2008. Vacancies declined in the first quarterly panel in winter 2013; as it is the first winter panel, we don't know how the number of vacancies has changed since last winter. The fall 2012 estimate of 31,230 vacancies was similar to the 30,384 vacancies in the fall of 2011. Due to changes in survey methodology, these estimates over time are not directly comparable. However, the slight gains in vacancies captured by the fall survey are in line with Oregon's slow job growth since the Great Recession.

The Oregon Employment Department plans to release the second quarter 2013 figures from the Oregon Job Vacancy Survey in early July.

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