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Record Share of Small Businesses Report Labor Quality Challenges in NFIB Report

  • Record share of small business owners in National Federation of Independent Business survey cite labor quality as their top concern
  • More than half of small businesses overall say they are having trouble finding qualified applicants
  • A strong share of small business owners was also increasing their compensation in an effort to attract talent

Summary by Dirk Langeveld

Small business owners continued to be frustrated by the quality of applicants for open positions in November, according to the latest jobs report from the National Federation of Independent Business.

Twenty-nine percent of respondents in the November report cited labor quality as their top concern, the highest level in the survey’s 48-year history. With employers often raising compensation to compete for available talent, percent said labor costs were their top concern.

“Unfortunately, the tight labor market has not eased for small business owners,” said NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg. “Unfilled positions and labor quality remain the biggest challenges for small business owners as they work to get back to pre-crisis levels. Owners have been increasing compensation to record-high levels to attract the right employees to their business.”

  • A seasonally adjusted share of 48 percent said their business has positions they have not been able to fill, above the historic average of 22 percent
  • 56 percent of overall businesses, including 93 percent of those hiring or planning to hire, said their open positions have had few or no qualified applicants; 30 percent reported few qualified applicants and 26 percent reported none
  • 60 percent said they hired workers or tried to hire in November; a seasonally adjusted net share of 25 percent said they plan to create jobs in the next three months
  • 41 percent had openings for skilled labor, while 22 percent had openings for unskilled labor; the construction industry was facing particular difficulties in finding workers, with 64 percent of these companies reporting few or no qualified applicants for open positions
  • The net share of those who have raised their compensation remained at 44 percent, matching an October high; a net share of 32 percent said they plan to raise their compensation within the next three months

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