Southwestern Oregon Job Vacancies Reach Record in 2021

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Private employers in Southwestern Oregon were looking to fill about 4,800 job vacancies in 2021 according to estimates from the Oregon Employment Department’s annual Job Vacancy Survey. The record level of vacancies came as employers tried to replace jobs lost during the pandemic recession in 2020. Employers reported a record 71% of vacancies were difficult to fill, up from 68% in 2020.

Statewide, the Portland Metro area (Multnomah, and Washington counties) led the way with 28,000 vacancies or about 29% of the Oregon total. Southwestern Oregon accounted for about 5% of total statewide vacancies.

The average starting wage offered by employers in Southwestern Oregon was $16.46 compared with $19.69 statewide.

Southwestern Oregon had generally lower educational requirements for vacancies than the Oregon average. Of the vacancies where an educational requirement is known, only about 18% in Southwestern Oregon required more than a high school education, compared with about 30% of Oregon vacancies requiring an education beyond high school. Almost 60% of Southwestern Oregon vacancies had no educational requirement compared with about 34% of Oregon vacancies that lacked any educational requirements.

Although the majority of vacancies have no education requirement, the old adage that “education pays,” holds true in this data. The average starting wage for vacancies that require post-secondary education, such as an associate’s degree or some other certification was $24.85, and vacancies that required a bachelor’s degree or higher averaged $29.76. Comparatively, openings that require a high school diploma averaged $15.87 and starting wages averaged $14.27 for openings with no requirement.

The leisure and hospitality industry accounted for 29% of vacancies in Southwestern Oregon, more than any other industry. Health care and social assistance was next with 11% of total vacancies. Manufacturing, retail trade, natural resources and mining, and construction accounted for between 8.4% and 9.5% of all vacancies.  

Even with demand concentrated in leisure and hospitality, and health care and social services industries, businesses were hiring for a wide variety of occupations in 2021, reporting vacancies in 154 different occupations. Fast food and counter workers had the most vacancies at 407. Agriculture, transportation, food preparation, customer and personal service, and construction-related occupations had spots on the list of most vacancies. 

The health care-related field had vacancies in several occupations including personal care aides with 159 vacancies. Others include nursing assistants (72), community health workers (52), and registered nurses (33).

Other occupations with a high number of vacancies include farmworkers and laborers (299), heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers (259), food preparation workers (218), carpenters (167), and cashiers (164).

As we mentioned earlier, Southwestern Oregon had both a record number of total vacancies and difficult-to-fill vacancies in 2021. The top difficult-to-fill position was heavy tractor-trailer truck drivers. Restaurant or food industry-related occupations comprised four of the top 12 most difficult-to-fill occupations in 2021. Personal care aides, nursing assistants, and community health workers jobs were also noted as difficult to fill by survey respondents.

The 2021 Southwestern Oregon estimates are based on responses from 1,300 private employers with two or more employees who were surveyed throughout the year.

For more details on statewide and regional vacancies, visit  and scroll down to the section titled “Job Vacancy Survey.”

By Guy Tauer

Regional Economist

Oregon Employment Department

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