NFIB Jobs Report: Small Business Employment Slows

Date: March 07, 2024

Job openings lessen to pre-pandemic levels

WASHINGTON, D.C. (March 7, 2024) – According to NFIB’s monthly jobs report, 37% (seasonally adjusted) of all owners reported jobs openings they could not fill in the current period, down two points from January and the lowest reading since January 2021. The percent of small business owners reporting labor quality as their top small business operating problem declined five points from January to 16%, the lowest reading since April 2020.

“Job openings among small businesses decreased in February to pre-pandemic levels,” said NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg. “Employment activity has lessened somewhat as it becomes easier for owners to find qualified workers. Even with this slowdown, labor demand remains strong.”

Owners’ plans to fill open positions continue to slow, with a seasonally adjusted net 12% planning to create new jobs in the next three months, down two points from January and the lowest level since May 2020.

Labor costs reported as the single most important problem for business owners increased one point to 11%, only two points below the highest reading of 13% reached in December 2021.

Overall, 56% of owners reported hiring or trying to hire in February, up one point from January. Of those hiring or trying to hire, 91% reported few or no qualified applicants for the positions they were trying to fill, up two points from January. Twenty-five percent of owners reported few qualified applicants for their open positions (down one point) and 26% reported none (up three points).

Seasonally adjusted, a net 35% reported raising compensation, down four points from January and the lowest reading since May 2021. A net 19% plan to raise compensation in the next three months, down seven points from January and the lowest since March 2021.

Thirty-two percent have openings for skilled workers (up two points) and 12% have openings for unskilled labor (down three points).

Job openings in construction were up six points from last month and over half have a job opening they can’t fill. Job openings were the highest in the construction, transportation, and wholesale sectors, and the lowest in the agriculture and finance sectors.

View the full jobs report here.

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