New Record: 49% of Owners Report Unfilled Job Openings

Date: August 13, 2021

Record-high number of owners are raising compensation as well

In nearly every month so far this year, a new record has been set: the number of small business owners who report that they have unfilled job openings. That trend continued in July, this time with the highest share yet.  

NFIB’s July small business jobs report shows a full 49% of owners reporting that they had positions they could not fill. By comparison, the 48-year historical average for unfilled positions is 22%, meaning the current figure is more than double the historical average.  

“Small business owners struggled to find qualified workers for their open positions, which has impaired business activity in the busy summer months,” said NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg of the record-breaking report findings. “Record high levels of owners are also raising compensation to attract needed employees.” 

A shortage of qualified applicants remains the main cause of the open positions. Ninety-three percent of owners who were hiring or trying to hire in July reported that few or no qualified individuals applied for their positions. Labor quality remains the most-cited concern for owners, with 26 percent naming it as the most pressing issue facing their business. 

As they work to attract more qualified applicants, a net 38% of owners report raising compensation in July – one point below June’s record high reading of net 39%. The number of owners who intend to raise compensation soon, meanwhile, did set an all-time record at a net 27%. 

The ever-growing number of owners who report unfilled positions is a serious concern. If you’re an owner whose business has run into this issue, tell us your story here. 

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