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Report: Small-Business Job Openings Fall to Pre-Pandemic Levels

NFIB finds labor market still tight, with 56% of owners still hiring

WASHINGTON — The monthly jobs report from the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) found a general slowdown in employment activity for small businesses in March, with a seasonally adjusted net 11% planning to create new jobs in the next three months, down one point from February and the lowest level since May 2020.

“Job openings on Main Street are now in line with the levels before the pandemic,” says NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg. “Even with the slowdown in openings, the small-business labor market remains tight, and owners continue to compete to retain and recruit employees.”

Unchanged from February, 37% (seasonally adjusted) of all small-business owners reported job openings they could not fill in the current period, the lowest reading since January 2021.

The percentage of small-business owners reporting labor quality as their top small-business operating problem rose two points from February to 18%. Labor costs, reported as the single most important problem for business owners, decreased by one point to 10%, only three points below the highest reading of 13% reached in December 2021.

Seasonally adjusted, a net 38% reported raising compensation, up three points from February’s lowest reading since May 2021. A net 21% plan to raise compensation in the next three months, up two points from February.

The NFIB’s report found that 31% of owners have job openings for skilled workers and 14% have openings for unskilled labor. Job openings in construction were down nine points from last month and almost half have a job opening they can’t fill. Job openings were the highest in the transportation, construction, and services sectors and the lowest in the finance and wholesale sectors.

Small-Business Job Openings Fall to Pre-Pandemic Levels

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