According to NFIB’s monthly jobs report, 42% (seasonally adjusted) of small business owners reported job openings they could not fill in the current period, a record reading. The March reading is 20 points higher than the 48-year historical average of 22%.
“This survey shows what Iowans already know: that our economic situation is in great shape despite a global pandemic,” said Matt Everson, NFIB State Director in Iowa. “Thanks to strong leadership in the Iowa Senate, the Iowa House and of course the Governor on passing important legislation in June like the COVID-19 liability reform that protected our small business owners from frivolous lawsuits, Iowa small business owners have mostly been able to weather the storm this past year. What they need now is help attracting qualified workers to Iowa to help fill our growing employment gap to ensure our economy continues to grow and prosper.”
Overall, job growth continued in March with firms increasing employment by 0.42 workers per firm on average over the past few months. Fifty-six percent of owners reported hiring or trying to hire in March, unchanged from February. Owners have plans to fill open positions with a net 22% (seasonally adjusted) planning to create new jobs in the next three months, 11 points above the 48-year historical average.
Thirty-four percent of owners have openings for skilled workers and 19% have openings for unskilled labor. In the construction industry, 50% of the job openings are for skilled workers. Fifty-five percent of construction firms reported few or no qualified applicants (down six points) and 38% cited the shortage of qualified labor as their top business problem (up three points).
Finding qualified employees remains a problem for small business owners. Ninety-one percent of those owners trying to hire reported few or no “qualified” applicants for the positions they were trying to fill in March. Twenty-eight percent of owners reported few qualified applicants for their open positions and 23% reported none.
A net 28% (seasonally adjusted) of owners reported raising compensation, up three points from February and the highest level in the past 12 months. A net 17% plan to raise compensation in the next three months, down two points.
Seven percent of owners cited labor costs as their top business problem and 24% said that labor quality was their top business problem and the top overall concern.