Washington had 52,000 job vacancies in spring 2011

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Washington employers had an estimated 52,000 job vacancies last spring, representing about 2 percent of the state's employment, according to a newly released report from the state's Employment Security Department.

More than 78 percent of the vacancies were in urban Western Washington, according to the "2012 Job Vacancy and Hiring Survey Report," which is based on a survey of about 11,700 Washington businesses.

The top three occupations with vacancies were retail salespersons, with almost 3,000 job openings, followed by registered nurses and customer service representatives. Industries with the most vacancies were healthcare and social assistance, with 11,000 job openings; retail trade, with nearly 7,000 vacancies; and accommodation and food services, with about 5,600 available jobs. On average, employers reported that it took 29 days to fill vacancies.

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.

According to the survey, Washington employers hired nearly 117,800 new employees into new or existing vacancies in January through March. Employers were asked to count only their external hiring, not internal hires or promotions. 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 full report is at https://fortress.wa.gov/esd/employmentdata/docs/occupational-reports/Job-vacancy-and-hiring-survey-report-2012-spring.