Small Business Owners’ Difficulty Finding Qualified Workers Reaches Survey High in August

Date: September 05, 2019

Washington, D.C. (Sept. 5, 2019) – A record percentage of small business owners reported having difficulties finding qualified workers in August, according to NFIB’s monthly jobs report.

Twenty-seven percent ranked finding qualified workers as their No. 1 business problem, the report said. On average, owners added an additional 0.19 workers per firm in August, a slight increase from the month before.

“Small businesses continue to grow and add jobs despite talk of a potential economic slowdown,” NFIB President and CEO Juanita D. Duggan said. “However, their biggest challenge remains a lack of qualified workers.”

A seasonally-adjusted net 20 percent of owners plan to create additional jobs, down one point from July. Twenty-one percent plan to increase total employment, and five percent plan employment reductions.

Overall, 64 percent of owners surveyed said they hired or tried to hire people in August, a slight increase from the month before. Of those, 89 percent reported finding few, if any, qualified applicants.

Thirty-five percent of all owners reported job openings they could not fill in the period, down four points from July. Forty-nine percent had openings in construction, while 42 percent had unfilled positions in manufacturing. Thirty-five percent or more in all industry groups expect financial services and professional services reported unfilled openings.

Other findings:

  • Thirty-three percent have job openings for skilled workers, and 13 percent have openings for unskilled workers.
  • Construction remained the sector with the highest share of owners citing “few or no qualified applicants”, at 68 percent, followed by manufacturing, with 59 percent.
  • A net 29 percent reported raising compensation and a net 19 percent plan to raise compensation in the coming months.
  • Fourteen percent of all firms reported using temporary workers.   

“The continued shortage of qualified talent has put pressure on small business owners, compelling owners to raise compensation,” said NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg. “Owners also continue to invest in employee training for those hired without the desired skills and experience in order to bring them up to speed.”

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


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