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Where are the job openings in Whatcom County? Many are in high-paying positions

Here are the top 10 employers in Whatcom County

Here are the top 10 employers in Whatcom County, according to information compiled by the Center for Business Research at Western Washington University.
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Here are the top 10 employers in Whatcom County, according to information compiled by the Center for Business Research at Western Washington University.

With Whatcom County’s unemployment rate remaining low, plenty of employers are having trouble filling some higher paying jobs.

The state’s Employment Security Department recently came out with a report measuring employer demand by looking through thousands of different online job boards for help-wanted postings. In Whatcom County the highest number of job postings in April was for registered nurses, paying an average salary of $68,490.

Retail sales positions were next with an average salary of $32,002, followed by truck drivers with an average salary of $49,361. Stock clerks (average salary $32,202) and retail managers ($49,240) round out the top five. Those five industries had 189 new job openings posted online in April. If you include the re-posted ads from the previous month, that climbs to 461, according to the report.

Of the top 25 industries posting online for local jobs, the total number is up slightly compared to the previous year, said Jeff Robinson, labor force statistics manager for the state.

Whatcom’s unemployment rate was below 5% throughout much of 2018. So far in 2019, the local unemployment rate has ranged from 5.1% to 5.9% according to the state.

Online postings only paint a partial picture of employer demand, since companies use a variety of ways to advertise job openings. Robinson said that between 60% to 80% of all job postings are now posted online, but online job ads are biased toward industries and occupations that seek high-skilled, white-collar workers.

Still, studying online postings provides other insights about what employers are looking for in workers. The most common “hard skills” requested in Whatcom County job listings is knowing Microsoft Office. That’s followed by freight experience, behavioral health work, operating forklifts and being bilingual, according to the report.

Among certifications, driver’s licenses for cars and commercial vehicles are by far the most listed. That’s followed by a wide range of certifications related to health, like first aid. Food safety and teaching English to speakers of other languages are also high on the list.

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Dave Gallagher has covered the Whatcom County business community since 1998. Retail, real estate, jobs and port redevelopment are among the topics he covers.

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