2015 Job Vacancy Survey

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Background

For the second consecutive year, CWRI surveyed private firms to gather information about hiring demand for use by job seekers, employers and policymakers. These data, gleaned directly from Maine employers, provide a unique snapshot of the recent job market: the number and types of jobs available and their characteristics. Conducted annually, JVS will provide insight into demand for workers and trends over time.

The JVS provides a snapshot of employer demand in the reference month of September, as specified by the survey. The survey methodology is designed to yield estimates of vacancies for the state and sub-state regions; over time, broad trends should emerge. Except for top-level summary statistics, these results are less useful for comparison of two or more points in time (such as year-over-year trends). The challenges of using the data as a time series include possible changes in occupational and industrial classification systems as well as permanent features of the methodology.

Who?

Maine private-sector employers

What?

Survey to discover whether employers were actively recruiting and, if so, for what positions

How?

Surveys were mailed and responses were accepted by mail, online, by fax, email or telephone. View survey form.

When?

September 2015

Why?

To discover, directly from employers, what occupations were in demand, their characteristics and requirements, and whether they were hard to fill and why.

The Sample was Designed to Ensure Broad Coverage of Maine Businesses and Regions

Region County    
South Coastal Cumberland and York
Central Western Androscoggin, Franklin, Kennebec, Oxford, and Somerset
Tri County Hancock, Penobscot, and Piscataquis
Mid Coastal Knox, Lincoln, Sagadahoc, and Waldo
Aroostook-Washington Aroostook and Washington
  • Employers fall into three sizes classes, each representing about one-third of Maine jobs.
  • "Industry" describes the economic activity of employers.
  • Survey responses are grouped according to industry sector: broad categories of firms engaged in diverse but related activities.

2,100 Employers Returned Surveys

The JVS 2015 had a response rate of 62 percent. One-third of those responding indicated the employer had one or more job vacancy.

Bar graph with three bars. Bar one 3,400 surveys mailed, bar two 2,100 surveys returned, and bar three 700 employers with one or more vacancies.

22,357 Job Vacancies in September 2015

In sum, 22,357 job vacancies represents a statewide job vacancy rate of 4.2 percent, or 4 job openings per 100 jobs. This rate is little changed from the 2014 JVS vacancy rate of 4 percent. Compared to the 2014 survey, however, more vacancies in 2015 were for full-time positions. Reported vacancies tended to be open for longer periods, with fewer posted for fewer than 30 days and more reported as "always open."

Category Summary
Number
Share of Total Vacancies
2014 Results
Total Estimated Vacancies Vacancies 22,357 100% 100%
Full-time positions 16,329 73% 62%
Seasonal or temporary 2,396 11% 12%
Difficult to fill 14,641 65%* 71%
Length of Time Job Has Been Open under 30 days 4,753 21% 31%
30 to 59 days 4,568 20% 19%
60 or more days 4,748 21% 21%
Always open 7,088 32% 25%
[Unspecified] 1,199 5% 4%
Education Level Required No level required 5,815 26% 24%
High school diploma or equivalent 9,328 42% 41%
Post-secondary training 1,748 8% 10%
Associate degree 847 4% 3%
Bachelor degree 1,671 7% 10%
Graduate degree 538 2% 2%
Other specified 579 3% 5%
[Unspecified] 1,830 8% 5%
Previous Experience Required No experience required 10,100 45% 43%
Less than one year 4,132 18% 17%
1 to 5 years 5,358 24% 29%
More than 5 years 838 4% 5%
[Unspecified] 1,930 9% 7%
* The default response to the survey question regarding difficult-to-fill (DTF) is "No," so null responses to this question are counted as "not difficult." Large employers reporting multiple vacancies are less likely to provide this detail, dampening the rate of difficult-to-fill. In 2015, more large employers responded than did in 2014. Therefore, differences in the DTF rate between 2014 and 2015 may be a result of non-response rather than a reflection of less difficulty. Changes in the way DTF is calculated will be instituted in future surveys to correct this.

Vacancies by Industry

Three quarters of job vacancies occurred at firms in five industry sectors: healthcare and social assistance (31%), accommodation and food services (16%), administration and waste services (12%), retail trade (12%) and construction (6%).

Industry Sector
Vacancies
Average Weekly Wage*
Share of Industry Sector Vacancies
Full-Time Positions
Seasonal or Temporary Positions
Requiring Education Beyond High School**
Requiring Previous Experience**
Difficult to Fill***
All Industries 22,357 $794 73% 11% 23% 49% 65%
Healthcare and Social Assistance 6,874 $852 64% 4% 49% 46% 59%
Accommodation and Food Services 3,566 $359 70% 9% 8% 29% 84%
Administrative and Waste Services 2,750 $661 89% 11% 2% 30% 41%
Retail Trade 2,591 $507 52% 15% 9% 39% 57%
Construction 1,347 $880 100% 47% 2% 89% 97%
Manufacturing 1,104 $1,037 90% 9% 16% 55% 75%
Transportation, Warehousing and Utilities 950 $840 79% 7% 8% 82% 84%
Financial Services 642 $1,184 87% 1% 21% 70% 42%
Other Services 637 $590 60% 4% 44% 78% 84%
Professional Scientific and Technical Services 624 $1,248 91% <1% 60% 81% 77%
Wholesale Trade 454 $1,168 99% 8% 6% 70% 87%
Private Education Services 229 $817 76% 11% 61% 75% 37%
Management of Companies 225 $1,410 68% 39% 52% 91% 7%
Arts, Entertainment and Recreation 167 $447 77% 48% 22% 56% 80%
Information 124 $918 64% 0 49% 52% 71%
Natural Resources  75 $736 100% 82% 0 99% 90%

* 2015 annual average from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW).
**Share of vacancies that specified a level of education or experience (excluding unspecified)
***The default response to the survey question regarding difficult-to-fill is "No," so null responses to this question are counted as "not difficult." Large employers reporting multiple vacancies are less likely to provide this detail, dampening the overall rate of difficult-to-fill and, in particular, the rate of difficult-to-fill vacancies in healthcare.

Relative Demand for Workers by Average Wages

This chart shows industries plotted by relative demand for workers and average weekly wage. The location of industry by quadrant indicates (clockwise from upper left): higher wages, lower demand; higher wages, higher demand; lower wages, higher demand; and lower wages, lower demand; compared to the average for all industries. The size of each sector's bubble reflects the number of job vacancies.

For help interpreting this chart, see Evaluating Relative Demand.

Industries with Highest Demand for Workers

Industries with above-average demand for workers are: administrative and waste services, healthcare and social assistance, transportation and warehousing, accommodation and food services, and construction.

Vacancies by Occupation

In 2015, job vacancies occurred in 21 major occupational groups, ranging from a high of 2,995 openings in food preparation and serving related occupations to a low of 55 openings in farm, fishing and forestry occupations.

Five occupational groups with the largest numbers of job openings accounted for more than 50 percent of vacancies; the remaining 50 percent of unfilled openings were distributed across 16 occupational groups.

Major Group
Vacancies
Median Hourly Wage
Full-Time Positions
Seasonal or Temporary Positions
Requiring Education Beyond High School**
Requiring Previous Experience**
Difficult to Fill***
All Occupations 22,357 $16.69 73% 11% 23% 49% 65%
Food Preparation and Serving Related 2,995 $9.50 63% 1% 6% 28% 79%
Office and Administrative Support 2,796 $15.58 78% 9% 5% 37% 37%
Healthcare Practitioner and Technical 2,375 $29.58 63% 3% 79% 56% 48%
Sales and Related 2,324 $11.62 60% 13% 7% 48% 43%
Transportation and Material Moving 2,066 $14.58 76% 12% 2% 57% 86%
Personal Care and Service 1,724 $10.55 61% 4% 20% 33% 85%
Healthcare Support 1,660 $12.82 62% 6% 56% 47% 67%
Construction and Extraction 1,387 $18.48 100% 46% 3% 88% 96%
Production 996 $16.45 91% 16% 7% 36% 73%
Building and Grounds Cleaning and Maintenance 829 $12.33 63% 39% 1% 20% 85%
Community and Social Services 714 $19.40 78% 5% 46% 53% 58%
Installation, Maintenance and Repair 667 $20.41 94% 4% 34% 86% 86%
Management 564 $37.60 99% 4% 76% 97% 52%
Business and Financial Operations 294 $27.48 97% 2% 60% 97% 36%
Computer and Mathematical 243 $31.73 93% 1% 50% 89% 55%
Arts, Design, Entertainment, Sports and Media 189 $15.58 88% 2% 74% 99% 76%
Education, Training and Library 146 $21.06 70% 7% 87% 60% 36%
Protective Service 146 $16.68 84% 15% 1% 24% 72%
Architecture and Engineering 126 $33.55 100% 0% 99% 98% 85%
Life, Physical and Social Science 60 $25.81 100% 0% 96% 88% 31%
Farming, Fishing and Forestry 55 $16.35 97% 84% 0% 91% 87%

Relative Demand for Workers by Median Wages

This chart shows occupational groups plotted by relative demand for workers and median wage. The location of occupational group by quadrant indicates (clockwise from upper left): higher wages, lower demand; higher wages, higher demand; lower wages, higher demand; and lower wages, lower demand; compared to the average for all industries. The size of each sector's bubble reflects the number of job vacancies.

For help interpreting this chart, see Evaluating Relative Demand.

Occupational Groups with Highest Demand for Workers

Occupational groups with above-average demand for workers were: personal care and service, healthcare support, community and social service, transportation and material moving, healthcare practitioner and technical, construction and extraction, and food preparation and serving occupations. Five of seven of these groups had above-average rates of openings that were difficult to fill.

25 Occupations with the Most Numerous Job Openings

While there were 364 individual occupations with at least one reported job opening, five occupations accounted for one-quarter of all job vacancies. The top 25 vacancies ranked by number of vacancies totaled 12,800 and accounted for more than half of all vacancies. Four out of five of the 12,800 were in occupations in which the median wage was less than $16.69, the median wage for all occupations in 2015. The following table lists them in descending order.

Occupation Title
Vacancies
Median Hourly Wage
(2015 OES)
Full Time Positions
Seasonal/Temporary Positions
Customer Service Representatives 1,367 $15.43 91% 8%
Personal Care Aides 1,344 $10.37 62% 4%
Registered Nurses 1,280 $30.21 65% 2%
Nursing Assistants 921 $11.76 68% 1%
Combined Food Preparation and Serving Workers, Including Fast Food 811 $8.91 72% 0%
Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Drivers 783 $17.45 84% 15%
Construction Laborers 769 $14.02 100% 80%
Waiters and Waitresses 658 $9.06 46% 1%
Retail Salespersons 601 $10.71 44% 33%
Cashiers 501 $9.28 33% 17%
Maids and Housekeeping Cleaners 467 $9.98 72% 47%
Light Truck or Delivery Services Drivers 432 $12.81 84% 1%
Laborers and Freight, Stock, and Material Movers, Hand 357 $12.65 53% 23%
Cooks, Short Order 324 $9.99 100% 0%
Janitors and Cleaners, Except Maids and Housekeeping Cleaners 257 $12.41 32% 2%
Medical Assistants 232 $15.02 86% 28%
Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics 229 $17.43 97% 0%
Home Health Aides 223 $10.99 50% 8%
Stock Clerks and Order Fillers 198 $11.25 30% 10%
Carpenters 197 $18.22 100% 3%
Nurse Practitioners 183 $45.19 87% 13%
Counter Attendants, Cafeteria, Food Concession, and Coffee Shop 180 $8.82 18% 8%
Psychiatric Aides 172 $11.91 29% 7%
Mental Health Counselors 161 $24.25 78% 0%
Production Workers, All Other 153 $12.79 100% 61%

Vacancies by Region

For reporting purposes, the state was divided into five regions.

Region County    
South Coastal Cumberland and York
Central Western Androscoggin, Franklin, Kennebec, Oxford, and Somerset
Tri County Hancock, Penobscot, and Piscataquis
Mid Coastal Knox, Lincoln, Sagadahoc, and Waldo
Aroostook-Washington Aroostook and Washington

Job vacancies occurred in similar geographical distribution to jobs and population. The largest shares of vacancies were located in regions that contain Maine’s metropolitan areas: 44 percent in the South Coastal region (Portland); 26 percent in the Central Western region (Lewiston-Auburn); and 16 percent in the Tri County region (Bangor). Nine percent of vacancies were located in the Mid Coastal region and 6 percent in the Aroostook-Washington region.

Region
Vacancies
Region Share of State Vacancies
Regional Median Hourly Wage (2015 OES)
Aroostook-Washington 1,181 5% $15.51
Central Western 5,838 26% $16.15
Mid Coastal 1,776 8% $17.19
South Coastal 9,929 44% $17.60
Tri County 3,631 16% $15.36

Industry Distribution Varied by Region

Occupations by Regions

The occupational composition of vacancies varied across regions. In most regions, food preparation, office support and healthcare occupations were among the top five groups ranked by number of unfilled jobs. In three of five regions, sales and transportation/material moving occupations were among the top five groups. Less common were regional concentrations in personal care and services (Mid Coastal and Tri County), construction (Aroostook-Washington and Central Western Maine and South Coastal), healthcare support (Tri County), building and grounds cleaning and maintenance (South Coastal) and management occupations (South Coastal).

Why Measure Relative Demand?

Number and characteristics of vacancies describe the stock of unfilled jobs but, by themselves, don't provide an indication of demand relative to other openings. Are 3,600 openings in accommodation and food services a lot or a little? One way to assess demand is to compare the share of job openings to the share of private jobs.

Establishing a Measure of Average Demand for Workers

Evaluating relative demand by industry of occupation is accomplished by comparing an industry's or occupation's share of job vacancies to its share of jobs. For example, if the accommodation and food services industry accounts for 13 percent of private jobs and 13 percent of job openings, we can say that demand for workers in that industry is proportional to its employment, or AVERAGE. If its share of job vacancies is greater than its share of jobs, demand is disproportionately high, or ABOVE AVERAGE. If its share of openings is less than its share of jobs, demand is disproportionately low, or BELOW AVERAGE.

  • AVERAGE => share (job vacancies) = share (jobs). Expressed as a ratio = 1
  • ABOVE AVERAGE => share (job vacancies) > share (jobs). Expressed as a ratio > 1
  • BELOW AVERAGE => share (job vacancies) < share (jobs). Expressed as a ratio < 1

How to Read Demand by Wages Charts: X-Axis

How to Read Demand by Wages Charts: Y-Axis

How to read Demand by Wages Charts: Quadrants

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