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Online Job Ads Show Bright Prospects for OR College Grads

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Monday, March 30, 2015   

SALEM, Ore. - Many of Oregon's fastest growing career fields require four-year college degrees and a new report says nowadays, the type of degree a student earns matters more than ever.

Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce analyzed online job ads by state to pinpoint promising career fields. It says Oregon companies are looking for workers in wholesale and retail trade services, and STEM-related jobs - science, technology, engineering and math.

Amy Vander Vliet, regional economist with the Oregon Employment Department, says other industries also are expanding.

"We are seeing strong job growth in manufacturing," says Vander Vliet. "We're third nationwide in our manufacturing job growth and we're fifth in professional and business services, which is another hotbed of STEM and college-educated jobs."

Vander Vliet says many fields that don't require four-year degrees are seeing strong growth, including retail and construction.

The report's lead author is Dr. Tony Carnevale, director of the center at Georgetown University. He says the ads show a much greater focus on specialization - employers want workers who are better fits for particular jobs.

"They care what you majored in in college, as much as they care whether or not you went," says Carnevale. "It matters less and less where you go to college. Going and getting a degree is important, but what you make really does depend on what you take."

The report says Oregon has seen increases in numbers of leisure and hospitality management jobs and in community services and the arts. But between 2010 and 2013, it says jobs in government service, food and personal care services all declined more than 25 percent.

Vander Vliet notes, Oregon has recovered the number of jobs lost in the recession and is seeing job growth across the board. For job-seekers, she says the downside is the pool of applicants is growing as well.

"There's a lot of job growth, but there's also a lot of people moving in, and people who left the workforce during the recession who are now reentering the labor force, who are graduating or whatever," she says. "Even though we've seen thousands and thousands of jobs created every month, there's competition for those jobs."

Compared to Oregon's ranking of seventh in the country for online job opportunities for college grads, California is eighth, Washington ranks third and Idaho ranks 24th.


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