Small Businesses Struggle to Increase Workforce

Small business owners continue to struggle to increase their workforce, with 25 percent of owners saying labor quality was their top business problem in December, according to the National Federation of Independent Business’s (NFIB)’s monthly jobs report. Thirteen percent of owners cited labor costs as their top business problem, up three points from November and a 48-year record high.

“The labor shortage is holding back the small business economy as owners work to retain their current employees and attract employees for their open positions,” said NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg. “A record-high number of small business owners are raising compensation to help retain and attract new employees.”

Seasonally adjusted, a net 48 percent reported raising compensation, up four points from November and a 48-year record high reading. A net 32 percent of owners plan to raise compensation in the next three months, unchanged from November’s record high reading.

Forty-nine percent (seasonally adjusted) of all small business owners reported job openings they could not fill in the current period. In construction, 58 percent of firms have a job opening.

Small business owners’ plans to fill open positions remain at record high levels with a seasonally adjusted net 28 percent planning to create new jobs in the next three months, up three points from November and four points below the highest reading in the 48-year history of the survey set in August.

Overall, 60 percent of owners reported hiring or trying to hire in December, unchanged from November’s report. Ninety-five percent of those owners hiring or trying to hire reported few or no qualified applicants for the positions they were trying to fill. Thirty-one percent of owners reported few qualified applicants for their open positions and 26 percent reported none.

Thirty-nine percent of owners have openings for skilled workers and 22 percent have openings for unskilled labor.

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