TWIN FALLS — Job openings are down 5.8 percent since April, but labor experts say there are still plenty of opportunities to find work in the Magic Valley.

Statewide and regionally, occupational therapy took the top spot in vacancy rates, followed by other medical field-related jobs, farm and nursery laborers, secretaries and supervisors, according to the Labor Department’s monthly Idaho Occupations in Demand Report.

With regional employment up 1.6 percent, employers are still looking for more people.

“A lot of companies are trying to make do without, when they have realized it’s hard to get laborers right now,” said Marcus Lutz, manager of Gem State Staffing. The company is increasingly taking calls from farmers wanting to fill positions, especially with irrigation and crop management.

“It definitely has been more of a struggle this year than in the past,” Lutz said.

Occupational therapy had a vacancy rate of 130 percent for south-central Idaho, higher than its statewide rate of 58 percent. This rate is calculated by dividing the number of openings by the number employed in the field.

“I think there’s a big demand for that occupation,” said Janell Hyer, a research analyst for the Department of Labor. “The vacancies are still in health care.”

Genesis Rehab is seeking one occupational therapist for Twin Falls, said Clinical Operations Area Director Kelli Spayd. The company contracts locally with the Twin Falls Care Center.

At Primary Therapy Source, staff just hired an assistant occupational therapist in March. While there were no openings as of Friday, Occupational Therapy Director Mandy Ovitt said she wouldn’t hesitate to interview someone interested.

Unlike its name suggests, occupational therapy isn’t only for those who are employed in the workforce. Occupational therapists assist with a variety of physical and mental barriers. Many children receive therapy to assist with their motor skills.

“For us, an occupation is anything that is meaningful or purposeful to you,” Ovitt said.

Schools for this occupation are more scattered across the West, Spayd said, and sometimes have smaller graduation classes that are hard to keep in the state.

“New grads love to see the world,” she said.

In the East, Spayd has seen more occupational therapists competing for jobs than employers competing for workers.

Medical secretaries, physical therapists and health service managers also made the top 10 in-demand jobs regionally.

Bryan Wright, owner of Wright Physical Therapy, said his business is trying to hire one physical therapist, after hiring two in May.

“We are always screening new physical therapists,” he said.

And it’s becoming more difficult to find the right candidate.

“The Millennial generation has had an effect, to a degree, on hiring,” Wright said.

Increasingly, Millennials are asking for more pay in an industry that hasn’t changed its compensation, he said. In physical therapy, some of this has to do with the American Physical Therapy Association’s “Vision 2020” statement passed in 2000. The vision is for all physical therapy providers to have doctorate degrees, instead of four-year degrees.

Wright said new therapists expect a higher pay because of a higher skill level.

Andrew York, director of community relations for Body Balance Physical Therapy, said his business was fully staffed, but it could be looking to hire more therapists as the business grows.

“We have started to focus on putting an ad out to schools right now,” York said.

Body Balance isn’t the only business that seeks to hire right out of school — Ovitt said her company has a good relationship with schools of occupational therapy in Idaho, Utah, Oregon and Washington.

South-central Idaho had 2,971 total job openings in May, with an overall vacancy rate of 4 percent. Total employment was estimated at 75,540.

Hyer noted that while school counselors and coaches also made the top 10, that’s likely because schools were still trying to fill positions for the next year.

“The ones that have the most openings may not have the highest vacancy rates,” she said.

The region had 159 openings for registered nurses, up from 135 a year ago. Heavy tractor-trailer truck driver openings were down from 2015, to 233. There were about 3,050 employed in that field.

Here’s a look at the top 10 occupations with the highest vacancy rates in south-central Idaho:

1. Occupational Therapists: 130%

Total openings: 39

Last year: 39

Total employment: 30

Median wage: $61,418

2. Medical Secretaries: 34%

Total openings: 17

Last year: 12

Total employment: 50

Median wage: $29,638

3. Physical Therapists: 31%

Total openings: 28

Last year: 12

Total employment: 90

Median wage: $80,202

4. Farmworkers and Laborers, Crop, Nursery and Greenhouse: 26%

Total openings: 49

Last year: 39

Total employment: 190

Median wage: $19,970

5. Educational, Guidance, School and Vocational Counselors: 23%

Total openings: 30

Last year: 17

Total employment: 130

Median wage: $35,681

6. Coaches and Scouts: 19%

Total openings: 29

Last year: 20

Total employment: 150

Median wage: $19,303

7. First-Line Supervisors of Transportation and Material-Moving Machine and Vehicle Operators: 15%

Total openings: 17

Last year: 18

Total employment: 110

Median wage: $46,424

8. First-Line Supervisors of Food Preparation and Serving Workers: 14%

Total openings: 58

Last year: 46

Total employment: 410

Median wage: $23,172

9. Executive Secretaries and Executive Administrative Assistants: 14%

Total openings: 22

Last year: 13

Total employment: 160

Median wage: $41,555

10. Medical and Health Service Managers: 13%

Total openings: 22

Last year: 30

Total employment: 170

Median wage: $67,518

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