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NFIB SURVEY: 50% of Small Businesses Have Positions They Can’t Fill

Fifty percent of all small business owners nationwide reported job openings they couldn’t fill, a record high reading according to NFIB’s monthly jobs report. The number of unfilled job openings has remained far above the 48-year historical average of 22%. 

“Small employers are struggling to fill open positions and find qualified workers resulting in record-high levels of owners raising compensation,” said NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg. “Owners are raising compensation in an attempt to attract workers and these costs are being passed on to consumers through price hikes for goods and services, creating inflation pressures.” 

State-specific data is unavailable, but NFIB State Director Gregg Thompson said small business owners in North Carolina are facing the same challenges.  

“The inability to find qualified job applicants combined with the surge in COVID-19 cases is forcing a lot of small businesses to scale back, reduce operating hours, and, in some cases, close temporarily because they don’t have enough workers,” Thompson said. “Our members need the General Assembly to find solutions to help small businesses remain open and operate as safely as possible.” 

According to NFIB’s jobs report, 66% of owners nationwide reported hiring or trying to hire in August, up five points from July’s reading. A seasonally-adjusted net 32% of small business owners are planning to create new jobs in the next few months, up five points and a 48-year record high reading. The 48-year historical average is 11%.  

Finding qualified workers remains a problem for small employers with 91% of those owners hiring or trying to hire reported few or no “qualified” applicants for the positions they were trying to fill. Thirty-one percent of owners reported few qualified applicants for their open positions and 29% reported none, a 48-year record high.  

Other key findings: 

  • Small business owners reporting raising compensation is up three points from July to a net 41% (seasonally adjusted) and a 48-year record high reading.  
  • A net 26% of owners plan to raise compensation in the next three months, down one point from July’s record high reading.  
  • Ten percent of owners cited labor costs as their top business problem and 28% said that labor quality was their top business problem, up two points from July and both record high readings.  
  • Forty-four percent have openings for skilled workers and 27% have openings for unskilled labor. Sixty-six percent of the job openings in construction are for skilled workers, up 7 points.  
  • Sixty-seven percent of construction firms reported few or no qualified applicants.  

About NFIB

For more than 75 years, NFIB has been the voice of small business, advocating on behalf of America’s small and independent business owners, both in Washington, D.C., and in all 50 state capitals. NFIB is nonprofit, nonpartisan, and member-driven. Since our founding in 1943, NFIB has been exclusively dedicated to small and independent businesses and remains so today. For more information, please visit NFIB.com.