How are U.S. employers going to fill all of their open positions? That’s the question raised again by the National Federation of Independent Business monthly jobs report, due out later today.
“Reports of employment gains remain strong among small businesses. Owners reported adding a net 0.19 workers per firm on average, virtually unchanged from May and a good number,” says NFIB Chief Economist William Dunkelberg.
That’s certainly good news, but the news could be much better if employers could find more job seekers. “Sixty-three percent reported hiring or trying to hire (up 5 points), but 55 percent (87 percent of those hiring or trying to hire) reported few or no qualified applicants for the positions they were trying to fill,” adds Mr. Dunkelberg.
NFIB finds particularly high demand for workers in home building, “where labor shortages are clearly restricting the construction of new homes and apartments as demand remains strong. The limited supply is resulting in strong house price appreciation.”
Beyond construction, it seems that things are tough all over for small businesses in need of new workers—both skilled and unskilled. “And the hiring strength is in industries that pay well,” notes Mr. Dunkelberg. Along with construction, this category includes manufacturing and financial services.
A seasonally adjusted net 20% of firms participating in the survey still plan to create new jobs, up two percentage points from May and historically strong. This means of course that small firms will have to keep raising wages and NFIB finds a net 31% did so in June. The survey’s record high of 35% was reached in May.
“Absent significant increases in the size of the labor force (through a higher participation rate), owners will increasingly be pirating workers from other firms” concludes NFIB’s economist. “There will also be compromises in qualifications and more resources invested in training,” he adds.
This week the Journal reports that this job seeker’s market is not confined to small business:
Workers are choosing to leave their jobs at the fastest rate since the internet boom 17 years ago and getting rewarded for it with bigger paychecks and/or more satisfying work.
Labor Department data show that 3.4 million Americans quit their jobs in April, near a 2001 peak and twice the 1.7 million who were laid off from jobs in April.
Job-hopping is happening across industries including retail, food service and construction, a sign of broad-based labor-market dynamism.
Workers have been made more confident by a strong economy and historically low unemployment, at 3.8% in May, the lowest since 2000.
It’s difficult to predict the particulars in Friday’s Labor Department report on employment across the broader U.S. economy. But it seems that if American companies didn’t hire a lot of workers in June, it wasn’t for lack of trying.