Nearly Half of Small Businesses Unable to Fill Job Openings

A record-high 48 percent of small business owners in May reported unfilled job openings (seasonally adjusted), according to NFIB’s monthly jobs report. May is the fourth consecutive month of record-high readings for unfilled job openings and is 26 points higher than the 48-year historical reading of 22 percent.

“Small business owners are struggling at record levels trying to get workers back in open positions,” said NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg. “Owners are offering higher wages to try to remedy the labor shortage problem. Ultimately, higher labor costs are being passed on to customers in higher selling prices.”

Sixty-one percent of owners reported hiring or trying to hire in May. Owners have plans to fill open positions with a seasonally adjusted net 27 percent planning to create new jobs in the next three months.

A net 34 percent of owners (seasonally adjusted) reported raising compensation, the highest level in the past 12 months. A net 22 percent of owners plan to raise compensation in the next three months, up two points from April.

Small business owners continue to report finding qualified employees remains a problem with 93 percent of owners hiring or trying to hire reported few or no “qualified” applications for the positions they were trying to fill in May. Thirty-two percent of owners reported few qualified applicants for their positions and 25 percent reported none.

Eight percent of owners cited labor costs as their top business problem and 26 percent said that labor quality was their top business problem, the top business concern.

Forty percent of small business owners have job openings for skilled workers and 27 percent have openings for unskilled labor. In the construction industry, 51 percent of job openings are for skilled workers. Sixty-six percent of construction businesses reported few or no qualified applicants.

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