NFIB: Labor Quality Top Concern

The percent of small business owners reporting labor quality as their top small business operating problem remains elevated at 20 percent, according to the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB)’s monthly jobs report in December 2023.

“The tight labor market has been a consistent concern for small business owners throughout 2023,” said Bill Dunkelberg, chief economist for NFIB. “The level of job openings suggests a solid labor market will continue on Main Street for 2024, as owners raise compensation to attract qualified workers and consumers spend.”

Forty percent (seasonally adjusted) of all owners reported job openings they could not fill in the current period, unchanged from November. Owners’ plans to fill open positions remain elevated, with a seasonally adjusted net 16 percent planning to create new jobs in the next three months, down two points from November and 16 points below its record high reading of 32 reached in August 2021.

Overall, 55 percent of owners reported hiring or trying to hire in December, up one point from November. Of those hiring or trying to hire, 89 percent of owners reported few or no qualified applicants for the positions they were trying to fill. Twenty-eight percent of owners reported few qualified applicants for their open positions and 21 percent reported none.

Job openings in the construction industry were up nine points from last month and over half have a job opening they can’t fill. Thirty-three percent of owners have job openings for skilled workers and 14 percent have openings for unskilled labor.

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