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Oregon Small Businesses Driving Growth In Available Jobs

Oregon businesses had 10,000 more job vacancies early this year, than a year ago. The vacancies were mostly at small businesses — those with fewer than 100 employees.

Employers not only had more job openings, they also reported having a hard time finding the workers they need. That’s according to a recent survey by the Oregon Employment Department.

In January, four unemployed people were competing for each private-sector vacancy. One year ago, the ratio was 8 unemployed for every job vacancy.

Jessica Nelson is an employment economist. She says that an employer’s struggle to find workers tends to push wages up because they need to offer more to win the employee they want.

“So it’s a bit of a story about the beginning of a turnaround from sort of an employer market to more of a job seeker market,” according to Nelson.

Nelson says most of the vacancies were for preparing and serving food, along with work in the production sector.

State economists say every region in the state saw an increase in the number of job vacancies, but more than half were in the Portland area.

Copyright 2014 Oregon Public Broadcasting