Small businesses improve, owners struggle to find qualified labor
WASHINGTON, D.C. (Oct. 1, 2020) – The small business labor market continues to make improvements in September despite continued state and federal employment regulations related to COVID-19. According to NFIB’s monthly jobs report, 10% of owners reported increasing employment an average of 3.2 workers per firm and 16% reported reducing employment an average of 2.0 workers per firm (seasonally adjusted).
“Small employers are taking every step they can to keep their businesses open and employees on staff,” said NIFB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg. “COVID-19 restrictions and regulations put on small businesses vary by state, but we are starting to see a jobs recovery as small businesses continue to increase business operations.”
A net 23% (seasonally adjusted) of owners plan to create new jobs in the next three months, up 2 points from the August report and 22 points above April’s report. However, 36% (seasonally adjusted) of all owners reported job opening that they could not fill in the current period, up 3 points.
Thirty-two percent of owners have openings for skilled workers and 16% have openings for unskilled labor, both historically high readings.
While many Americans are receiving unemployment benefits, small businesses are having trouble matching workers with available jobs. Thirty percent of owners reported few qualified applicants for their open positions and 20% reported none.
Fifty-six percent of owners reported hiring or trying to hire in September, up four points from the previous month. Of those trying to hire, 89% reported few or no “qualified” applicants for the positions they were trying to fill. Sixty percent of construction firms reported few or no qualified applicants and 30% cited the shortage of qualified labor as their top business problem.
A net 23% reported raising compensation, up 5 points from August. A net 16% plan to raise compensation in the coming months, up 2 points. Nine percent of owners cited labor costs as their top business problem.