Nearly half of small business owners have unfilled job openings
WASHINGTON, D.C. (Oct. 5, 2023) – The labor shortage continues to hinder Main Street as 43% (seasonally adjusted) of all small business owners reported job openings they could not fill in the current period, up three points from August.
“Small business owners have spent the first three quarters of 2023 working to recruit and retain qualified employees for their businesses, but it still remains a top challenge,” said Bill Dunkelberg, NFIB Chief Economist. “Owners continue to raise compensation to attract the right employees.”
The percent of small business owners reporting labor quality as their top business operating problem remains elevated at 23%. Labor cost reported as the single most important problem for business owners increased one point to 9%, four points below the highest reading of 13% in December 2021.
Owners’ plans to fill open positions remain elevated, with a seasonally adjusted net 18% planning to create new jobs in the next three months. Overall, 61% of owners reported hiring or trying to hire in September, up two points from August. Ninety-three percent of those hiring or trying to hire reported few or no qualified applicants for the positions they were trying to fill. Thirty percent of owners reported few qualified applicants for their open positions and 27% reported none.
Seasonally adjusted, a net 36% of owners reported raising compensation. A net 23% of owners plan to raise compensation in the next three months, down three points from August.
Thirty-seven percent of owners have job openings for skilled workers and 18% have job openings for unskilled labor. When asked about the overall change in employment at the firm, 10.8% reported higher and 12.2% reported lower. Overall, small firms have not been successful at adding to employment growth, and the major problem appears to be a lack of qualified applicants, even in the services sector which requires little technical training to fill a position.