Job openings plunged in 2008’s second half

Job vacancies in Washington last fall were 32 percent fewer than just six months earlier, according to the the state Employment Security Department – which also reported that King County remained one of the best job-hunting places.

The state government agency announced Jan. 23 that Washington companies were attempting to fill an estimated 50,593 open positions in the fall of 2008, compared to 74,744 open positions last spring. Forty percent of the fall openings were in King County.

The statistics are based on a survey taken in October that measured job openings that firms across Washington were actively attempting to fill. The survey is taken twice a year, in the spring and fall.

“We saw a very sharp drop in a very short time in our state,” said Greg Weeks, Employment Security’s director of labor-market information. “But despite a weak economy, firms are still hiring.”

Industries with the most vacancies in October were healthcare, with 14,409 job openings (including 4,124 for registered nurses), retail (7,231), and a combination of hotels and food services (5,282).

More than 40 percent of vacant positions overall were offering salaries of less than $10 per hour, while 6 percent involved positions offering $30 or higher per hour.