Clackamas County Job Vacancies Reach Record High in 2021

by Amy Vander Vliet

April 14, 2022

Private firms in Clackamas County were looking to fill a record 11,000 job vacancies at any given time in 2021; about 6,200 more (+160%) than in 2020, when pandemic closures dramatically slowed hiring.

Throughout the year, the Oregon Employment Department surveys private businesses across the state. If hiring, the employer provides a variety of information about each vacancy including job title, starting wage, and education and experience requirements for the job.

Clackamas County’s record level of vacancies came as employers tried to replace jobs lost during the pandemic recession while competing for a limited number of available workers. The survey’s results reflect the extent of their struggles: the share of vacancies reported as difficult to fill increased from about 60% of all openings in the years prior to the pandemic to 72% in 2021, and the share of vacancies open for longer than 60 days nearly doubled, from 18% to 33%.

By Industry

Clackamas County employers across all broad industries reported vacancies in 2021. Health care and social assistance accounted for the largest number with 3,370 openings at any given time, an all-time high for a sector that has been struggling with worker shortages throughout most of the pandemic. Retail trade came in a very distant second (900), followed by construction (860). Together these three sectors accounted for half of all job openings in the county.

By Occupation

Employers were looking to fill a wide variety of jobs in 2021. They reported vacancies across 155 different occupations, 29 of which had 100 or more openings at any given time.

Three health care related occupations topped the list: personal care aides (830), nursing assistants (460), and registered nurses (420). Hospitals and other care providers grappled with surging demand, staff burnout, and labor shortages. Together these three occupations accounted for one out of every six vacancies.

By Education and Wages

Nearly two-thirds of all job vacancies either had no educational requirement at all or required only a high school diploma; similar to the statewide share (63%). On the other end of the spectrum, just 3% required a bachelor’s or advanced degree. One quarter required a postsecondary degree or other certification.

The average hourly wage for vacancies in Clackamas County was $19.75; higher than any other region in Oregon except Portland Metro (Multnomah and Washington counties). Wages were tightly correlated with education requirements. The average wage for job openings with no required education was $17.61 and increased to $25.27 for those requiring a bachelor’s or advanced degree.

More information about regional and statewide job vacancies can be found in the Job Vacancy Survey box on the publications page of QualityInfo.org.

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