Washington, D.C. (March 5, 2020) – Small business owners are supporting a strong small business labor market with solid hiring, elevated levels of open positions, and higher employee compensation in February, according to NFIB’s monthly jobs report. Owners added an average addition of 0.43 workers per firm, adding to a strong first quarter of 2020.
Finding qualified workers remains the top problem for owners, with 25% reporting this as their No. 1 problem. In construction, 45% cited the shortage of qualified labor as their top business problem and in manufacturing, 33%. The lack of qualified labor is constraining growth in these sectors.
“The labor shortage remains one of the biggest obstacles to a more robust small business economy,” said NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg. “The lack of workers has slowed certain sectors like construction, manufacturing, and transportation. But overall, the economy is strong and growing at a good pace.”
Thirty-eight percent (seasonally adjusted) of all owners reported job openings they could not fill in the current period, up 1 point. Thirty-three percent reported openings for skilled workers (up 3 points) and 11% have openings for unskilled labor (down 3 points). Thirty-four percent reported few qualified applications for their open positions and 18% reported none. Reports of “few or no qualified applicants” were high in construction (65%), manufacturing (53%), and retail (52%).
Up from January, 15% of owners reported increasing employment and average of 1.6 workers per firm and 2% (down two points) reported reducing employment an average of 4.9 workers per firm (seasonally adjusted).
A net 21% of owners (seasonally adjusted) plan to create new jobs, up two points. Twenty-eight percent plan to increase total employment at their firm, and 1% plan reductions. In construction, 38% plan to increase their employment and 0% plan reductions.
In attempting to fill open positions, a historically high percentage of owners’ plan to raise their employee’s compensation. A net 36% (seasonally adjusted) reported raising compensation and a net 19% plan to do so in the coming months.