Labor quality remains a top concern for owners
WASHINGTON, D.C. (Dec. 7, 2023) – According to NFIB’s monthly jobs report, 40% (seasonally adjusted) of all owners reported job openings they could not fill in the current period, down three points from October. The percent of small business owners reporting labor quality as their top small business operating problem remains elevated at 24%. Labor costs reported as the single most important problem for business owners decreased one point to 8%, five points below the highest reading of 13% reached in December 2021.
“Despite the slight decline in November, small business job openings remain stuck in historical territory,” said NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg. “For owners across the country, there are not enough workers to maintain current operations for small businesses, much less chase new opportunities. As we near the end of the year, small business owners continue to raise compensation in order to attract and retain qualified employees.”
Small business owners’ plans to fill open positions remain elevated, with a seasonally adjusted net 18% planning to create new jobs in the next three months, up one point from October and 14 points below its record high reading of 32 reached in August 2021.
Overall, 54% of owners reported hiring or trying to hire in November, down seven points from October. Of those hiring or trying to hire, 93% reported few or no qualified applicants for the positions they were trying to fill. Twenty-six percent of owners reported few qualified applicants for their open positions and 24% reported none.
Seasonally adjusted, a net 36% of owners reported raising compensation, unchanged from last month. A net 30% plan to raise compensation in the next three months, up six points from October.
Job openings in construction were down nine points from last month but still nearly half have a job opening they can’t fill. Job openings were the highest in the construction and manufacturing sectors and the lowest in the agriculture and finance sectors.
Thirty-three percent of owners have openings for skilled workers (down four points) and 14% have openings for unskilled labor (down four points).