Small Business Labor Demand Continues to Grow

Date: November 01, 2018

Job openings that could not be filled matches September’s record high

Washington, D.C. (Nov. 1, 2018) – A seasonally adjusted 16 percent of small business owners reported increasing employment an average of 3.3 workers per firm and 11 percent reported reducing employment an average of 2.9 workers per firm, according to NFIB’s monthly jobs report, released today. Job creation remained solid in October for small businesses at a net addition of 0.15 workers per firm.

“As we’ve seen for months, small business owners continue to be large job creators for Americans in today’s economy,” said NFIB President and CEO Juanita Duggan. “Instead of worrying about costly regulations and high taxes, finding workers to sustain growth is the top concern.”

A seasonally-adjusted net 22 percent of owners plan to create new jobs, four points below August’s record high but still exceptionally strong historically. Twenty-two percent plan to increase total employment at their firm, and six percent plan reductions.

However, 38 percent of all owners reported job openings they could not fill in the current period, equal to September’s record high. Sixty percent of owners reported hiring or trying to hire with 88 percent of them reporting few or no qualified applicants for the positions they were trying to fill. When asked their ‘Single Most Important Business Problem,’ 23 percent of owners cited the difficulty of finding qualified workers in October, down two points from the August record high.

“The labor force is not growing quickly enough to satisfy the demand,” said NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg. “The unemployment rate is expected to be lower which means that the increase in labor force participation will not be sufficient to meet new labor demands.”

October again showed there are more job openings than job seekers, which is pushing up compensation. A net 34 percent reported raising overall compensation in hopes of hiring and retaining employees, down three points from September’s record high. Unchanged from last month, 14 percent of owners reported using temporary workers.

The labor market is tight for both skilled and unskilled workers, with 34 percent of owners reporting openings for skilled workers and 16 percent reporting openings for unskilled labor.

Click here to view the entire NFIB Jobs Report. For more information about NFIB, please visit

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