Nearly Half of Small Businesses Unable to Fill Job Openings

Columbus, Ohio (June 4, 2021) – A record-high 48% of small business owners 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.”

Sixty-one 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. Ohio members of NFIB ranked locating qualified employees and finding and keeping skilled employees in the top three problems in the 2020 NFIB Problems & Priorities report.

“Ohio small business owners are certainly facing a tight labor market, we have even seen restaurants have to close for a day due to labor shortages. Many large employers are offering large sign-on bonuses that smaller companies find hard to match,” said NFIB Ohio Executive Director Roger Geiger

“Hiring was a huge challenge before the pandemic, and it has been exacerbated by federal programs that have paid employees to stay home. We believe Ohio Governor Mike DeWine’s decision to end the additional federal unemployment benefits this month will encourage Ohioans to return back to the workforce,” he continued.

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.

Click here to view the full NFIB jobs report.