Over Half of Small Businesses Looking to Hire, Having Difficulty Finding Workers

Date: December 03, 2020

Owners cited labor quality as top business problem

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Dec. 3, 2020) – Small businesses reported a historically high level of job openings in November, according to NFIB’s monthly jobs report. Overall, 53% reported hiring or trying to hire in November, down 2 points from the previous month. A seasonally adjusted net 21% of owners are planning to create new jobs in the next 3 months, up 3 points from October.

“Small businesses are doing their best to end the year on a good note, but the economic recovery remains uneven with some industries near full recovery and others still struggling,” said NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg. “Finding qualified workers for open positions has only gotten worse as the pandemic caused an even tighter labor market. A surge in the labor force participation rate would be welcome news to small employers.”

Thirty-four percent (seasonally adjusted) of owners reported job openings they could not fill in the current period, up 1 point from October’s reading. Eighty-nine percent of those owners trying to hire reported few or no “qualified” applicants for the positions they were trying to fill. Twenty-seven percent of owners reported few qualified applications for their positions and 20% reported none.

Twenty-nine percent of owners have openings for skilled labor and 13% have openings for unskilled labor.

Six percent of owners cited labor costs as their top business problem (down 2 points) but 24% said that labor quality was their top business problem (up 2 points), exceeding the percentages selecting taxes, regulations, and weak sales as their top problem.

Forty-two percent of the job openings in construction are for skilled workers, down 2 points. Fifty-three percent of construction firms reported few or no qualified applicants and 37% cited the shortage of qualified labor as their top business problem.

Firms increased employment by 0.16 workers per firm on average over the past few months, an increase of 0.06 workers per firm compared to October’s reading. Up 1 point, 12% reported increasing employment an average of 2.6 workers per firm and 14% reported reducing employment an average of 3.1 workers per firm (seasonally adjusted).

A net 24% (seasonally adjusted) of owners reported raising compensation and a net 20% plan to do so in the coming months. The labor market is tight, and owners cannot find qualified workers to fill open positions.

Click here to view the entire NFIB Jobs Report.

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