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34% can’t find workers to hire

December 7, 2018


Small business job creation inched up in November, rising to a net addition of 0.19 workers per firm, according to NFIB’s monthly jobs report, released today. Sixteen percent of owners reported increasing employment an average of 2.9 workers per firm, unchanged from October, and 11 percent reported reducing employment and average of 1.9 workers per firm.

“As a banner year comes to an end, small business owners have shown that when taxes and regulations fade as a major concern for their business, they will invest in their business and employees,” said NFIB President and CEO Juanita D. Duggan. “The biggest concern facing small businesses going into the holiday season and next year is finding qualified employees for the positions they’ve created.”

Matching the August 2018 record high and up two points from last month, 25 percent of owners cited the difficulty of finding qualified workers as their ‘Single Most Important Business Problem.’ Small business owners continue to report difficulty hiring, with 34 percent of all owners reporting job openings they could not fill in the current period. Forty-seven percent report open positions in construction and 38 percent report open positions in manufacturing. Sixty percent report hiring or trying to hire, but 87 percent of those report few or no qualified applicants. Unchanged from October, 14 percent of owners reported using temporary workers.

A seasonally-adjusted net 22 percent of owners plan to create new jobs, unchanged from October. Twenty-two percent (not seasonally-adjusted) plan to increase total employment at their firm and seven percent plan reductions. Job creation plans were strongest in manufacturing.

“The labor force is not growing quickly enough to satisfy the current demand for workers,” said NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg. “A successful hire in this market will likely create a job vacancy elsewhere because of the tight labor market. The unemployment rate will likely go lower since the labor demand is still more than the increases in labor supply.”

In November, the labor market continued to be tight for both skilled and unskilled labor. Thirty percent of owners have openings for skilled workers and 12 percent have openings for unskilled labor.

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