Thursday, June 3, 2021

SURVEY: Nearly Half of Small Businesses Unable to Fill Job Openings

NFIB press release, NASHVILLE (June 3, 2021) – A record-high 48% of small business owners nationwide in May reported unfilled job openings (seasonally adjusted), according to NFIB’s monthly jobs report. May is the fourth consecutive month of record-high readings for unfilled job openings and is 26 points higher than the 48-year historical reading of 22%.  

“Small business owners are struggling at record levels trying to get workers back in open positions,” said NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg. “Owners are offering higher wages to try to remedy the labor shortage problem. Ultimately, higher labor costs are being passed on to customers in higher selling prices.”

State-specific data is unavailable, but a May survey of NFIB members in Tennessee said 85% of them had openings but an overwhelming majority of those were struggling to get people to even apply.

“These survey results clearly show how difficult it is right now to find employees,” NFIB State Director Jim Brown said. “We are hopeful the hiring environment in Tennessee will improve soon because the state is ending the federal pandemic-related unemployment compensation early, but, until that happens, hiring will remain a challenge.” 

The temporary federal benefit is set to expire in September, but Gov. Bill Lee said it will end in Tennessee effective July 3. 

Nationwide, 61 percent of owners reported hiring or trying to hire in May. Owners have plans to fill open positions with a seasonally-adjusted net 27% planning to create new jobs in the next three months. 

A net 34% of owners (seasonally adjusted) reported raising compensation, the highest level in the past 12 months. 

A net 22% of owners plan to raise compensation in the next three months, up two points from April.

Small business owners continue to report finding qualified employees remains a problem with 93% of owners hiring or trying to hire reported few or no “qualified” applications for the positions they were trying to fill in May. 

Thirty-two percent of owners reported few qualified applicants for their positions and 25% reported none. 

Eight percent of owners cited labor costs as their top business problem and 26% said that labor quality was their top business problem, the top business concern. 

Forty percent of small business owners have job openings for skilled workers and 27% have openings for unskilled labor. 

In the construction industry, 51% of job openings are for skilled workers. Sixty-six percent of construction businesses reported few or no qualified applicants. 

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