Statewide job vacancies up nearly 35 percent last year

Job vacancies in Washington grew by about 35 percent from spring to fall 2012, and a quarter of the vacancies were new jobs, according to a new report from the Washington State Employment Security Department.

The department surveyed employers last year to find out how many vacancies they had, and how many of those vacancies were new positions. The surveys also asked companies how many external hires they made from January through March, and from June through August.

According to the surveys, vacancies increased by about 18,500 openings between spring and fall, reaching an estimated total of 70,434 in the fall.

About one-third of the increase occurred in the agricultural industry, which was reaching its peak seasonal hiring when the fall survey was taken.

“Although seasonal hiring accounts for a large portion of the increased vacancies, it was encouraging that more than two-thirds of the vacancies were for permanent jobs,” said Cynthia Forland, research director for Employment Security, in a press release.

The three industries with the most vacancies in the fall were healthcare and social assistance; agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting; and manufacturing.

The occupations with the most available openings were farmworkers, retail salespeople and food processing.

In addition to vacancies, employers reported more than 190,000 external hires during June through August last year, about 72,453 more than the first quarter of 2012. More than 18 percent of the summer hires were farmworkers, followed by retail salespeople and cashiers.

On average, it took employers 19 days to fill their vacancies, ranging from about 10 days for vacancies in the agriculture and food-services industries to 37 days to fill vacancies in the information industry.

Statewide, the average hourly starting wage across all industries and occupations was $13.48.

The full report includes additional details about the education and training that employers were looking for, as well as comparisons between industries, occupations and geographic areas of the state.

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