Workforce demand trends continue to shift in Oregon, state report finds
From 2020 through 2030, the Oregon Employment Department expects to see annual openings for 686 different occupations — including new job titles that may not even exist yet.
A Jan. 18 report from the department said in many cases, the fastest-growing industries and occupations see the most new and emerging jobs.
This means when businesses lost employees due to layoffs, reorganizations or the Great Walkout, the leadership is thinking twice about how to replace them. They might retain the salary money, and put it toward a newly-created position needed to match the changing market.
Jessica Nelson, employment economist with the department, is the author of the report. The report said that 2020 saw low employment levels because of the COVID recession, which is a major cause for the shift in the occupational pattern. Much of the hiring in 2021 replaced lost workers, so the report accounts for that.
"The occupational pattern of vacancies did change in the pandemic," Nelson said. "In 2021, we saw hiring ramp up to levels we've never seen before, and wages and difficulty filling jobs both increased significantly as employers competed for a limited number of job seekers."
Much of the market changes can be attributed to the growth in technology, which affects all other industries' functions as technology advances. Some of the fastest-growing jobs are in health care, and many of the new and emerging jobs are in data analysis and high tech. The aging population is a big cause for the demand in health care jobs.
The state report said investing in STEM, health care and technical skills education is important as these jobs are expected to continue to be needed. Almost all job openings in health care, data science and tech require advanced degrees or bachelor's degrees.
"Education pays for Oregon workers," Nelson told the Business Tribune. "With every additional level of education — be it completing high school, achieving some college credits or a degree program — average wages rise as education levels increase."
Nelson said this is seen across federal labor statistics as well as in the employment department's Oregon Job Vacancy Survey.
On the other hand, many of the fastest-growing types of jobs are also in sectors that lost a lot of jobs during the pandemic recession in 2020, according to the report.
"Jobs requiring additional education pay more, but they're outnumbered by job openings that don't require education beyond high school," Nelson said. "This is a consistent finding of the Oregon Job Vacancy Survey — many large occupations have a lot of openings, experience a lot of turnover, and they don't require training prior to starting the job."
Workers with a high-school level education are in high demand for jobs like coaches and scouts; hotel, motel and resort desk clerks; animal caretakers; travel agents; interpreters and translators; media and communications workers; and lodging managers, the report found.
Nelson said also included are personal care aides, retail salespersons, maids and housekeepers, cooks, food service workers, customer service workers and cashiers.
These are the fastest-growing sectors in need of jobs for a high-school level of education — and have been leaned on heavily during the pandemic, creating lasting structural changes that will persist long after Oregon recovers from the pandemic, the report found.
With the average federal student loan debt at about $36,500 per graduate, further research from the department found that college enrollment among recent high school grads declined by 3.5% in 2020. Enrollment at higher education institutions stabilized in fall 2021, but community colleges have been affected much more, with enrollment declining about 24% since fall 2019.
"The combined shock to the education system of COVID, with lots of opportunity and accelerating wages in the job market, and a college experience that remains different from the past and somewhat uncertain, has led some to delay college," Nelson said. "Graduating into a job market like this one is great for long-run earnings, so that personal choice isn't too surprising."
Most state universities in Oregon saw a 5% decline in enrollment from 2019-21, the department found.
"Some of the jobs that employers have the most difficulty filling require training beyond high school, but not necessarily a bachelor's degree," Nelson said.
Nelson said high-demand jobs that require some training or certification up to an associate's degree include truck drivers, registered nurses, nursing assistants, dental assistants, dental hygienists, electricians and massage therapists.
"Demand for high school-trained workers has always existed and continues to be very important to the economy functioning," Nelson said. "We've seen retirements pick up in the pandemic, but this is a trend we've been anticipating for years as the Baby Boomer generation ages into retirement and takes skills and long-term experience with it."
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