Difficulty finding qualified workers has potential to slow the small business recovery
Across the nation, small businesses face a developing crisis: they’re trying to hire but struggling to find qualified workers to fill the jobs. In NFIB’s March survey of small business owners, a record-high 42% of owners reported that they have open positions they couldn’t fill.
News outlets are taking notice, with this worrying figure appearing in a variety of publications since the NFIB report was released.
Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, NFIB member Melissa Anderson laid off all three full-time employees of her jewelry-making company, Silver Chest Creations in Burkesville, Kentucky. She tried to rehire one of them in September and another in January as business recovered but they refused to come back, she told Bloomberg News, “They’re not looking for work.”
In Indianapolis, Indiana, Fox 59 spoke with business owners reporting widespread difficulties filling open positions in numerous industries. And in Nevada, small business owners told Fox 5 that they face unprecedented problems with hiring.
Holly Wade, executive director of the NFIB Research Center discussed the March survey showing 42% of small business owners had job openings they couldn’t fill in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece on the hiring challenges of small business. She said, “As long as we’ve been conducting the survey, it’s never been that high.”
“While the increase in the Optimism Index is encouraging, the difficulty in finding qualified workers has the potential to bring the small business recovery to a screeching halt. How sad that after a year of incredible struggle and loss, small business could be left on the side of the road to economic recovery,” Barbara Quandt, NFIB state director in Indiana, told The Northwest Indiana Times.
NFIB’s state director in Louisiana, Dawn Starns McVea, echoed the sentiment telling the Greater Baton Rouge Business Report, “Our members tell us that finding the right job candidates is a real problem that could make it harder for them to get back up to speed following the COVID-19 downturn.”
The Missourian points out the many obstacles facing small businesses that are looking for qualified workers: a difficulty to compete with federal unemployment benefits, pandemic anxieties and the lack of interest in in-person work in industries like construction, and a simple shortage of qualified workers in absolute terms.
We asked NFIB members about their struggles to find qualified employees, and you can read their stories here.
NFIB’s monthly jobs report from March shows more of what small business owners are saying, and you can find an overview of the findings here. NFIB also conducts a monthly COVID-19 survey to gauge the pandemic’s impact on small businesses, and the most recent research on the pandemic’s impact can be found here.
Small businesses are America’s job creators. However, finding qualified employees is becoming more difficult for small business owners. Please consider sharing your experiences as an employer by filling out our labor survey.