Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Washington job openings continue to decline

OLYMPIA – Job vacancies in Washington in April were 35 percent fewer than six months earlier, according to the latest job-vacancy report from the Employment Security Department.

The survey showed that Washington companies were attempting to fill an estimated 32,635 open positions in the spring of 2009, compared to 50,593 open positions last fall.

The Spring 2009 Washington Job-Vacancy Survey report is based on a survey taken in April that measured job openings that firms across Washington were actively attempting to fill. The survey is taken twice a year, in the spring and fall.

“There was a sharp fall in vacancies from the last survey to this one, showing that even job openings are sensitive to our changing economy,” said Greg Weeks, Employment Security’s director of labor-market information. “Although employers are not hiring as much in our weak economy, it is important to note that many firms are still hiring.”

Out of 19 industry sectors, 15 of them experienced declines in job openings. Industries with the most vacancies in April were health care, with 7,517 job openings, retail, with 4,062 openings, and accommodations (hotels) and food services, with 2,990 vacancies.

The occupation that was most in demand was registered nurses. Statewide, there were an estimated 2,317 openings for registered nurses. This number dropped by nearly half from last fall, but still had the most job openings of any occupation.

Most job openings were found in the major metropolitan areas, although there was an increase in some seasonal vacancies in north-central Washington. Specifically, King County had 42 percent of the estimated job openings, which is slightly more than the county’s employment share of 40 percent of all Washington jobs. Ten percent of the spring vacancies were in Pierce County, 7 percent were in north-central Washington and 6 percent in both Snohomish and Spokane counties.

Most job openings were not for high-paying jobs, with more than 40 percent of vacant positions offering less than $10 per hour. Eight percent of vacancies were for positions offering $30 or higher per hour. Jobs requiring advanced degrees brought in a median wage of $29.30 per hour (compared to $35.47 when the prior survey was taken last October). Median wages for available jobs dropped consistently with lower educational requirements, according to the April survey.

Job seekers can learn more about prevalent occupations and search more than 14,000 jobs listed online at or by visiting a local WorkSource center. There are 36 WorkSource career centers across Washington.

WorkSource is a partnership of government agencies, community colleges and nonprofit organizations that offer free career services for job seekers and businesses.

The full Washington State Job Vacancy Survey report is available online at

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