According to an April report by the Oregon Employment Department, employers posted more job vacancies, 97,000, in 2021 than any other year since the OED started its Oregon Job Vacancy Survey in 2013.
And another figure stood out from the data: 72% were considered hard to fill by employers. That percentage was up from 51% in 2020, according to OED's report.
The hard-to-fill roles included in-demand jobs at restaurants, hospitals, construction sites, retailers and other workplaces. The characteristics were similar to past years but with a couple of differences. First, they paid more than $2 more on average than easier-to-fill jobs in the same occupation. And second, they were "far more likely" to require previous experience.
"With a record volume of job openings and a limited pool of candidates, employers may have needed to offer higher wages or other benefits to find the experienced candidates they were seeking," according to the report by employment economist Jessica Nelson.
The department's survey also explored reasons given by employers for the difficulty in filling jobs, and the top reason it found was a lack of applicants. That might sound obvious, but the study still found that unusual as "primary reasons for difficulty are usually more spread out among several factors."
In 2021, as Oregonians adjusted to life during COVID and pandemic restrictions eased, many employers began hiring for the same skills and experiences at the same time, according to the report.
"While the number of job openings reached record highs, the unemployment rate steadily dropped to near pre-pandemic lows by the end of 2021, and job openings outnumbered unemployed workers. Many positions seem to have gone unnoticed in the swell of opportunities and didn’t receive enough applicants."
The other two most frequently cited reasons making jobs difficult to fill were working conditions, such as part-time hours, inconvenient shifts and physical demands, and low wages.
The 15 jobs employers said they had the most trouble filling were listed by the employment department, including the number of openings and the percentage that were hard to fill. Read the ranking at the Portland Business Journal.