It's a good time to be looking for work in Oregon.
Oregon businesses reported 10,000 more job vacancies early in 2014 than they did the prior year. Businesses had approximately 32,700 job vacancies in the winter months of 2014, according to a Job Vacancy Survey recently completed by the Oregon Employment Department.
Not only did employers report having more openings, they also reported more difficulty finding the workers they need, and they are offering higher average wages, possibly to attract more applicants.
All of this means more (and perhaps better-paid) opportunities for job seekers in Oregon.
The increase of 10,000 job vacancies occurred among businesses with fewer than 100 employees. Businesses with 100 or more employees had essentially the same level of vacancies this year as in winter 2013.
Along with more vacancies, there are fewer unemployed competing for those available jobs. In January, 146,600 Oregonians were unemployed, which means roughly 4 unemployed people for each private-sector vacancy. One year ago, the ratio was 8 unemployed for every job vacancy.
As the labor market tightens, employers are having more difficulty finding the workers they need. Employers reported that more than half of their vacancies in the winter were difficult to fill. The share has increased since winter 2013, when 39 percent of vacancies were difficult to fill.
At $16.05, the average wage offered for a vacancy in winter 2014 was $0.74 above the level from the prior year - one more sign of a job market picking up steam.
Food preparation and serving workers, and production workers topped the list of occupations with vacancies, with more than 4,000 apiece.
All regions had more vacancies this year than last. Vacancies have increased significantly in Central Oregon since winter 2014. The Portland Tri-County area had 19,000 vacancies, more than half of the statewide total.