Another Record Set in Unfilled Job Openings at Small Businesses

Date: June 03, 2021

For the fourth consecutive month, a record-high number of owners report unfilled job openings in NFIB’s May Jobs Report

For the fourth consecutive month, a new record has been set in unfilled job openings among small businesses. In May, 48% of owners reported that they were unable to fill their job openings – shattering the 44% record from the previous month. 

This labor shortage is a serious problem for owners trying to restore their businesses to full capacity and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and related business restrictions. Twenty-seven percent of owners say that they plan to create new jobs in the next three months, a sharp increase of 6 points from April. 

All told, 61% of owners hired or tried to hire new employees in May, a 2-point increase from the previous month. But almost all (93 percent) of these same owners reported few or no qualified applicants for the positions they were trying to fill in May.  

The problem is more pronounced among businesses looking for skilled workers: 40 percent say that they have openings for skilled workers (up 3 points from April) while 27 percent have openings for unskilled workers (up 7 points.) In response, a net 56 percent reported either raising or planning to raise compensation, up 5 points from April. 

“Small business owners are struggling at record levels trying to get workers back in open positions,” said NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg of the May report. “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.” 

Over a quarter (26%) of owners cited labor quality as their biggest concern, a 2-point increase from April and the most commonly cited main problem. 

If your business is struggling to fill open positions, NFIB wants to hear about it. Send us your story here. 

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