Small businesses improve, Iowa owners struggle to find qualified labor
The small business labor market continues to make improvements in September despite continued state and federal employment regulations related to COVID-19. According to NFIB’s monthly jobs report, 10% of owners reported increasing employment an average of 3.2 workers per firm and 16% reported reducing employment an average of 2.0 workers per firm (seasonally adjusted).
“Iowa continues to be a great place to open and operate a small business. It’s no wonder that small business owners are continuing to increase their business operations,” said NFIB State Director in Iowa, Matt Everson. “The state is in a strong financial position, with a $305 million surplus, despite significant challenges – like a global pandemic. Iowa small business owners are doing everything they can to keep their customers and employees safe, but they’re not going to stop growing – no matter what challenges they have to overcome.”
A net 23% (seasonally adjusted) of owners plan to create new jobs in the next three months, up 2 points from the August report and 22 points above April’s report. However, 36% (seasonally adjusted) of all owners reported job opening that they could not fill in the current period, up 3 points.
Thirty-two percent of owners have openings for skilled workers and 16% have openings for unskilled labor, both historically high readings.
While many Americans are receiving unemployment benefits, small businesses are having trouble matching workers with available jobs. Thirty percent of owners reported few qualified applicants for their open positions and 20% reported none.
Fifty-six percent of owners reported hiring or trying to hire in September, up four points from the previous month. Of those trying to hire, 89% reported few or no “qualified” applicants for the positions they were trying to fill. Sixty percent of construction firms reported few or no qualified applicants and 30% cited the shortage of qualified labor as their top business problem.
A net 23% reported raising compensation, up 5 points from August. A net 16% plan to raise compensation in the coming months, up 2 points. Nine percent of owners cited labor costs as their top business problem.