Owners work to overcome a disruptive labor market

WASHINGTON, D.C. (March 4, 2021) – According to NFIB’s monthly jobs report, 56% of small business owners reported hiring or trying to hire in February, up five points from January. A net 18% of owners reported they are planning to create new jobs in the next three months.

“The COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt the labor market, especially when some parts of Main Street are still closed or restricted due to state and local mandates,” said NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg. “It is important that elected officials keep their attention on the small business economic recovery and ensure those small businesses are getting the help they need.”

Small businesses increased employment by 0.34 workers per firm on average over the past few months, following good readings in December and January. Forty percent of owners reported job openings they could not fill in the current period, up seven points from last month.

Thirty-three percent of businesses have openings for skilled workers (up five points) and 16% have openings for unskilled labor (up four points).

Small business owners continue to have difficulty finding qualified employees. Ninety-one percent of those trying to hire reported few or no “qualified” applicants for their open positions, up five points in February. Twenty-six percent of owners reported few qualified applicants for their open positions (unchanged) and 25% reported none (up five points).

Seasonally adjusted, a net 25% reported raising compensation and a net 19% plan to do so in the coming months. Nine percent cited labor costs as their top business problem (up two points) and 24% said that labor quality was their top business problem (up three points and the top overall concern).

In the construction industry, 51% of the job openings are for skilled workers, up seven points from January’s reading. Sixty-one percent of firms reported few or no qualified workers and 35% cited the shortage of qualified labor as their top business problem.

Click here to view the entire NFIB Jobs Report.

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