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NFIB Jobs Report: Small Business Job Openings Drop to Pre-Pandemic Levels


Apr 4, 2024

In March, the hiring activity on Main Street experienced a slowdown, according to the NFIB’s monthly jobs report. The report showed that a seasonally adjusted net 11% of small businesses are planning to create new jobs in the next three months, which is down one point from February and the lowest level since May 2020. NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg noted that job openings on Main Street are now back to pre-pandemic levels, despite the slowdown. The small business labor market remains tight, with owners competing to retain and recruit employees.

Although 56% of small business owners reported hiring or trying to hire in March, unchanged from February, 86% of them reported few or no qualified applicants. This shortage of qualified applicants could be seen in the fact that 37% of all small business owners reported job openings they could not fill in the current period, the lowest reading since January 2021. The report also highlighted that labor quality was a top operating problem for 18% of small business owners, while labor cost remained a concern for 10% of owners.

On the compensation front, a net 38% of small business owners reported raising compensation, which is up three points from February. Looking ahead, a net 21% plan to raise compensation in the next three months, up two points from February. The report also indicated that 31% of owners have job openings for skilled workers and 14% have openings for unskilled labor. Job openings were highest in the transportation, construction, and services sectors, while they were lowest in the finance and wholesale sectors.

Overall, the NFIB’s jobs report for March highlights the challenges faced by small businesses in terms of hiring and retaining qualified employees. The tight labor market and competition for skilled workers are key issues that small business owners are grappling with as they navigate the post-pandemic recovery.

By editor

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