Small Business Owners Report Record High Unfilled Job Openings in December

Date: January 03, 2019

Related Content: Press Release Economy National

Owners raise compensation to attract workers as finding qualified workers remains owners’ most important business problem

Washington, D.C. (Jan. 3, 2019) – A record 39 percent of small business owners reported job openings they could not fill in the current period, according to NFIB’s monthly jobs report, released today. Sixty percent of owners reported hiring or trying to hire, but 90 percent of those reported few or no qualified applicants for the position. Twenty-three percent of owners cited the difficulty in finding qualified workers as their Single Most Important Business Problem.

“2018 was a banner year for small businesses in terms of job creation and compensation increases and as we begin the new year, small businesses are continuing their focus on attracting and retaining qualified employees for their businesses,” said NFIB’s President and CEO Juanita D. Duggan. “Finding qualified workers is their top problem going into 2019, exceeding taxes and regulations.”

In December, a net 35 percent reported increasing compensation and a net 24 percent reported planned increases in the next few months. Job creation remained solid with a net addition of 0.25 workers per firm, up from 0.19 in November and the best reading since July. Down one point from last month, 15 percent reported increasing employment an average of 3.0 workers per firm and 10 percent reported reducing employment an average of 2.9 workers per firm.

Although the labor markets are exceptionally tight, a seasonally-adjusted net 23 percent of owners plan to create jobs, up one point from November’s reading. Thirty-three percent have job openings for skilled workers and 12 percent have openings for unskilled labor. In December, 33 percent reported few qualified applicants for their open positions and 21 percent reported none.

“The labor force growth has become a constraint on the growth of the economy,” said NFIB’s Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg. “With more job openings than people looking for a job, the American worker can take advantage of wages rising and having several job alternatives to choose from.”

Job creation plans were the strongest in construction (net 27 percent) and professional services (38 percent).

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