New NFIB Jobs Report: Staggering 50 Percent of Small Business Owners Report Job Openings They Can’t Fill

Date: September 02, 2021

Unfilled Job Openings Hit Record-High, Remain Far Above 48-year Historical Average

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Sept. 2, 2021) – Fifty percent of all small business owners reported job openings they could not fill in the current period, a record high reading according to NFIB’s monthly jobs report. The number of unfilled job openings has remained far above the 48-year historical average of 22%.

“Small employers are struggling to fill open positions and find qualified workers resulting in record high levels of owners raising compensation,” said NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg. “Owners are raising compensation in an attempt to attract workers and these costs are being passed on to consumers through price hikes for goods and services, creating inflation pressures.”

Up five points from July’s reading, 66% of owners reported hiring or trying to hire in August. A seasonally adjusted net 32% of small business owners are planning to create new jobs in the next few months, up five points and a 48-year record high reading. The 48-year historical average is 11%.

Finding qualified workers remains a problem for small employers with 91% 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 29% reported none, a 48-year record high.

Small business owners reporting raising compensation is up three points from July to a net 41% (seasonally adjusted) and a 48-year record high reading. A net 26% of owners plan to raise compensation in the next three months, down one point from July’s record high reading. Ten percent of owners cited labor costs as their top business problem and 28% said that labor quality was their top business problem, up two points from July and both record high readings.

Forty-four percent have openings for skilled workers and 27% have openings for unskilled labor. Sixty-six percent of the job openings in construction are for skilled workers, up 7 points. Sixty-seven percent of construction firms reported few or no qualified applicants.

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