Historically high numbers of owners still have unfilled positions
Throughout 2021 and into 2022, the number of small business owners who report that they have unfilled job openings has been at historically high levels – significantly above the NFIB Small Business Jobs Report’s decades-long average. That trend continued in March, with more and more owners also increasing compensation.
As they work to attract more qualified applicants, a net 49% of owners report raising compensation in March – four points above last month’s reading. The number of owners who intend to raise compensation soon, is also high at a net 28%.
NFIB’s March small business jobs report shows a full 47% of owners reporting that they had positions they could not fill. By comparison, the 48-year historical average for unfilled positions is 23%, meaning the current figure is more than double the historical average.
“The labor shortage has not eased on Main Street as the number of job openings exceeds the number of unemployed workers,” said NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg. “Owners have continued to increase their compensation in March to attract the right employees for their open positions, however, these rising labor costs will be passed on to their consumers through higher selling prices.”
Labor quality remains one of the most-cited concerns for owners, with 22% naming it as the most pressing issue facing their business. Eight percent of owners cited labor costs as their top business problem, a three-point decrease from February but still at historically record-high levels.
A shortage of qualified applicants remains the main cause of the open positions. Ninety-two percent of owners who were hiring or trying to hire in March reported that few or no qualified individuals applied for their positions.
Overall, 60% of owners reported hiring or trying to hire in March; 39% are hiring skilled workers and 23% are hiring unskilled workers. A net 20% of owners also plan to create new jobs in the near future.