Small Business Owners Continue to Struggle to Find Workers

Small business owners continued to struggle to find workers to fill open positions in October with 49 percent (seasonally adjusted) of all owners reporting job openings they could not fill in the current period, according to NFIB’s monthly jobs report. A net 44 percent (seasonally adjusted) of owners reported raising compensation, up two points from September and a 48-year record high reading.

“Small business owners continue to make business and hiring adjustments to help manage the busy holiday season,” said NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg. “The staffing shortage has not eased up for small businesses and many are passing those costs on to their customers.”

Small business owners’ plans to fill open positions remain at record high levels, with a net 26 percent (seasonally adjusted) planning to create new jobs in the next three months. A net 32 percent of owners plan to raise compensation in the next three months, up two points from September’s record high reading.

Ten percent of owners cited labor costs as their top business problem and 24 percent report labor quality as their top business problem.

Overall, 62 percent of small employers reported hiring or trying to hire in October, down five points from September. Ninety-four percent of those owners hiring or trying to hire reported few or no qualified applicants for the positions they were trying to fill. Thirty-three percent of owners reported few qualified applicants for their open positions and 25 percent reported none.

Forty-two percent of owners have openings for skilled workers and 24 percent have openings for unskilled labor. In the construction industry, 59 percent of the job openings are for skilled workers, down eight points from September. Sixty-five percent of construction firms reported few or no qualified applicants, down 15 points.

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