Small Business Labor Shortage Hits New Record in July

Small business owners reported a record high reading of unfilled job openings with 49 percent of owners reporting job openings they could not fill in July, according to the National Federation of Independent Business’ NFIB’s monthly jobs report. Unfilled job openings have remained far above the 48-year historical average of 22 percent.

“Small business owners struggled to find qualified workers for their open positions, which has impaired business activity in the busy summer months,” said NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg. “Owners are raising compensation to the highest levels in 48 years to attract needed employees.”

Overall, 61 percent of owners reported hiring or trying to hire in July, up two points from June. A seasonally adjusted net 27 percent of owners are planning to create new jobs in the next three months, down one point from June’s record high reading.

Finding qualified workers remains a problem for small business owners. Ninety-three percent of those owners hiring or trying to hire reported few or no “qualified” applicants for the positions they were trying to fill in July. Thirty-one percent of owners reported few qualified applicants for their open positions (down one point) and 26 percent reported none (up two points), a 48-year record high.

Seasonally adjusted, a net 38 percent reported raising compensation, down one point from June’s record high of 39 percent. A net 27 percent of owners plan to raise compensation in the next three months, up one point from June and a 48-year record high reading.

Nine percent of owners cited labor costs as their top business problem and 26 percent said that labor quality was their top business problem, unchanged from June but remains the top overall concern.

Forty-three percent of owners have job openings for skilled workers (up three points) and 25 percent have openings for unskilled workers (up three points). In the construction industry, 59 percent of the job openings are for skilled workers. Sixty-six percent of construction firms reported few or no qualified applicants for their open positions.

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