Employment Dept. releases promising jobs report

The Oregon Employment Department released two new reports this week summarizing details of Oregon’s job vacancies. As rapid hiring occurred in 2021 to replace jobs lost in 2020 during the pandemic, Oregon’s job vacancies rose to record levels. Oregon employers had 97,000 job openings at any given time in calendar year 2021. The need for workers was especially high in the second half of the year. 

With record job openings also came record difficulty filling vacancies. Employers categorized nearly three out of four (72%) of their job openings as hard to fill. Unemployment declined significantly during 2021, and employers reported that their primary hiring challenge for nearly half of all hard-to-fill job openings was a lack of applicants. More job listings were also staying open longer as employers competed for the limited supply of available workers. 

Employers raised wages in 2021. The average starting wage offered for job openings was $19.69 per hour, which was 4% higher than in 2020 after adjusting for inflation. 

Overall, the characteristics employers are looking for haven’t changed much in the pandemic and recovery; there were just a lot more of them. Most job vacancies offered full-time work schedules, and employers were mostly looking to fill permanent positions. Job opportunities are plentiful for Oregon workers across all parts of Oregon’s economy. Employers reported job openings in more than 430 different occupations. 

Report released on potential disparate impacts of identification verification 

Last week, the Oregon Employment Department (OED) released an internal assessment to determine if people claiming unemployment insurance were being negatively impacted by the requirement to verify their identity through software provided through 

“We have a strong commitment to equity and inclusion at OED. We also do everything we can to prevent fraud and ensure people who have legitimate claims can access the benefits they need,” said David Gerstenfeld, acting director of the Oregon Employment Department. “When we started using, we were aware of concerns that the technology may not be as accessible to everyone we serve. We conducted the internal assessment to identify potential groups of people who may need extra support to complete the identity verification process.”