Urban western Washington dominates spring job vacancies

Employers statewide had an estimated 52,000 job vacancies last spring, nearly four-fifths of which in urban western Washington, according to a new report from the state’s Employment Security Department.

The report, titled “2012 Job Vacancy and Hiring Survey Report,” was based on a survey of about 11,700 Washington businesses.

Occupations with the most vacancies were in sales, registered nursing and customer service.

Industries with the most vacancies were health care and social assistance (with 11,000 job openings), retail trade (with nearly 7,000 vacancies) and accommodation and food services (about 5,600 available jobs).

In addition to measuring job vacancies in May and June 2012, the report measured the amount of external hiring by Washington employers in the first quarter of 2012.

Washington employers hired nearly 117,800 new employees into new or existing vacancies in January through March, according to the survey.

Most of the new hires were farmworkers, retail salespeople or cashiers.

Statewide, the average starting wage for employees hired in January through March was $15.45. In urban areas west of the Cascades, the average was $16.84, while the average in urban eastern Washington was $12.47.

The average starting wage in rural areas was about the same on both sides of the state:  $11.72 on the west side and $11.63 on the east side.

On average, employers reported that it took 29 days to fill their vacancies.

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