Washington, D.C. (August 1, 2019) – NFIB’s monthly jobs report found that small business job creation slowed in July, falling to an average addition of 0.12 workers per firm, down from June but still historically strong. A record 26 percent of small business owners surveyed cited the difficulty of finding qualified workers as their single most important business problem.
“While small business owners are continuing to hire employees and create new jobs at historic levels this summer, finding qualified workers is clearly restricting growth that could otherwise be taking place,” NFIB President and CEO Juanita D. Duggan said. “Owners continue to benefit from tax and regulatory relief they’ve received to help recruit and retain employees.”
A seasonally adjusted net 21 percent of small business owners plan to create new jobs, up two points from June. Not seasonally adjusted, 23 percent plan to increase total employment at their firm, and five percent plan reductions.
The shortage of qualified labor continues to hinder owners’ ability to fill open positions. Sixty-three percent of owners reported hiring or trying to hire, up five points from the month before. However, 89 percent of those owners reported few or no qualified applicants for their open positions.
- Thirty-nine percent of owners reported job openings they could not fill in the current period, up three points from June.
- Thirty-five percent have openings for skilled workers (up four points) and 15 percent have openings for unskilled labor (up one point).
- Thirty-six percent of owners reported few qualified applicants for their open positions, and 20 percent reported none.
“The inability to assemble work teams is a major contributor to the lackluster performance in labor intensive industries, most notably in construction,” NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg said. “Finding qualified workers has been a continuing problem for small businesses, and it is affecting productivity.”
Thirty-two percent of owners in construction plan to add jobs, compared with five percent who plan reductions. However, 57 percent report few or no qualified applicants; 42 percent cite the labor shortage as their top business problem.
In transportation, 61 percent plan to increase employment, while four percent plan reductions.
Overall, few owners say they are cutting jobs, indicating that initial claims for unemployment will remain historically low.
Up four points from June, 32 percent of owners reported raising worker compensation. The frequency of plans to raise compensation fell to 17 percent, the lowest reading since 2017. Raising compensation to keep or attract workers is the only short-term response that firms can make to rectify the labor shortage, Dunkelberg said.