Report: State’s job openings expected to double by spring

SEATTLE – The number of job openings in Washington is expected to nearly double by spring, according to a new report from the Employment Security Department.

In a survey sent out last spring, the department asked how many vacancies employers thought they would have in the course of a year. In response, state employers said they anticipated 157,214 openings by the spring. That number is up from the estimated 85,000 vacancies the state reported in spring 2013.

“The employment picture in early 2013 was the strongest and most optimistic we’ve seen in several years,” Cynthia Forland, who heads the labor-market research office at the Employment Security Department, said in a statement.

Industries such as agriculture, retail and freight are expected to see the strongest growth by spring.

While the Employment Security Department reports strong employment expectations, wages continue to take a hit, especially in the urban area of Western Washington. From 2012 to 2013, the average starting wage decreased by $2 an hour. The decrease in wages is likely linked to increased hiring in low-wage occupations, such as farmworkers, customer service and freight laborers, according to the researchers.

The full report can be viewed online.