Report on Oregon’s Current Workforce Gaps

Posted on May 30, 2019

Oregon’s private employers reported 58,000 job vacancies at any given time in 2018. The majority (33,000 or 57%) of those job openings were identified by businesses as difficult to fill. The Oregon Employment Department has published detailed findings about these job vacancies in the new report Oregon’s Current Workforce Gaps: Hiring Challenges for Unfilled Job Vacancies.

In a long economic expansion with unemployment rates at or near record lows in Oregon for two years, a lack of applicants posed the greatest challenge to employers. In 2018, nearly one-third (29%) of all difficult-to-fill job vacancies had too few applicants, or none at all. The second most-common reason businesses cited for difficulty filling vacancies was unfavorable working conditions. These included challenges finding workers for part-time, on-call, overnight, or inconsistent work shifts.

Employers faced challenges filling job vacancies across a variety of jobs. Occupations with the largest number of difficult-to-fill job vacancies included personal care aides (2,000), truck drivers (1,700), food preparation workers (800), roofers (700), restaurant cooks (700), and landscaping and groundskeeping workers (600). Although difficult-to-fill vacancy totals were smaller, employers reported challenges filling essentially all job vacancies for forest and conservation workers, plumbers, construction supervisors, printing press operators, and intercity and transit bus drivers.

By industry, health care and social assistance reported the largest number of difficult-to-fill job vacancies (5,500). Construction had the second-largest number of challenging job vacancies (4,800), which also represented the highest share (85%) of hard-to-fill vacancies by sector. Construction grew the fastest of any industry in Oregon between early 2016 and 2018. Along with that outsized pace of job growth came a larger share (41%) of difficult-to-fill vacancies in the sector with a lack of applicants.

Employers across Oregon shared in the challenge of meeting their current workforce needs. Businesses reported difficulty filling the majority of job vacancies in every region of the state. The Portland Metro area (Multnomah and Washington counties) reported the largest number of difficult-to-fill vacancies (12,700) in 2018. Meanwhile, the largest shares of difficult-to-fill vacancies were found in the East Cascades (73%) and Southwestern Oregon (68%) regions.

For the full report and more details on recent Oregon job vacancies, visit the “publications” tab on

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