News Column

Oregon Employers Finding Some Jobs Hard to Fill

July 2, 2013
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Oregon's unemployment rate has fallen steadily this year, but a new study by the state Employment Department demonstrates one of the challenges in getting more people off the unemployment rolls and into the work force.

Almost half of the vacant jobs in Oregon were classified by employers as "difficult to fill" in a survey taken in October, according to a report released Monday by the state Employment Department.

Difficult-to-fill vacancies are more likely to require education beyond high school and are much more likely to require previous work experience, generally in that industry or specific occupation, the Employment Department said. They also tended to be higher-paying jobs than the ones employers said they weren't having trouble filling -- $20.91 per hour vs. $15.50.

All told, there were 13,808 jobs that employers said they were having difficulty filling, or 44 percent of the vacancies they were looking to fill when the survey was taken, the Employment Department said.

The two top reasons employers gave for difficulty in filling positions was lack of qualified candidates and unfavorable working conditions, such as irregular schedules; too few hours or too many hours; and stressful, difficult or physically demanding work. Those two reasons were cited by 18 percent of employers. The next most common problems cited by employers trying to fill positions were lack of applicants (14 percent) and lack of work experience (13 percent).

"Employers are looking for the 'right' combination of education and experience for unique roles within their companies," according to the report. "This may provide a more difficult training challenge than if companies were looking for a large number of employees with essentially identical skills."

Many of the occupations that are on the difficult-to-fill list are in health care, manufacturing and transportation-related fields, the Employment Department said, such as physical therapists, nurses, welders, computer-controlled machine operators, tool operators, truck drivers and mechanics.

With a few exceptions, the reasons for problems in hiring workers were consistent across the state, the department said. One exception: Eastern and Central Oregon employers cited location as a major issue, while the rest of the state did not, according to the report.

Health care had by far the most vacancies reported as difficult to fill, more than twice as many as any other industry, with unfavorable conditions and a lack of applicants cited by employers as the main reasons.

The full report, "Two-Fifths of Oregon's Job Vacancies are Difficult to Fill," is available at

Source: (c)2013 The Register-Guard (Eugene, Ore.) Distributed by MCT Information Services

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