Help wanted: Oregon has shortage of job applicants

Businesses report 50,800 job openings at any given time

FILE - This April 22, 2014, file photo shows an employment application form on a table during a job fair at Columbia-Greene Community College in Hudson, N.Y. The Labor Department issues its April 2015 report on job openings and labor turnover on Tuesday, June 9, 2015. (AP Photo/Mike Groll, File)

SALEM, Ore. (KOIN) — One of the downsides to a growing economy is a lack of job applicants.

The Oregon Employment Department says employers are struggling more than ever to fill positions. In a survey of more than 12,000 businesses in Oregon, the employment department found that about 25% of all job vacancies in Oregon had an insufficient number of applicants or none at all.

The top hard to fill jobs are personal care aids, nursing assistants, restaurant cooks, truck drivers, retail sales people and production workers.

Oregon businesses reported 50,800 job openings at a given time in 2016. Of those vacancies, about 65% were defined by employers as difficult to fill for any number of reasons including lack of work experience, low wages, unfavorable working conditions or lack of qualified candidates.

But the largest single thing contributing to the problem is a lack of applicants altogether.

“If you look more broadly at Oregon’s economy, of the 50,000 job vacancies that were available at any given time last year, about one in four either had too few applicants or none at all, and these aren’t positions where we can’t find people who are trained or don’t have people that have the right skills… there’s just lack of applicants at all,” said economic analyst Gail Krumenauer.

Krumenauer said until economic conditions or vacancy characteristics change, employers can expect continuing or even more difficult filling those jobs.