WASHINGTON—The small-business labor market ended 2019 with “strong hiring, elevated levels of open positions, and higher employee compensation,” according to the National Federation of Independent Businesses Chief Economist William Dunkelberg, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Finding qualified workers remained the top issue for owners in December, with 23% reporting it as their No. 1 problem. Fifty-three percent reported hiring or trying to hire, but 94% of those owners reported few or no qualified applicants for the positions they were trying to fill.
Down from last month, 33% (seasonally adjusted) of all owners reported job openings they could not fill in the current period. Sixty-one percent had job openings in construction. “The inability to assemble work teams is a key contributor to the comparably lackluster performance of the construction industry as evidenced by the December figures,” said Dunkelberg. “Owners are raising compensation in order to attract more qualified applicants to fill open positions.”
A historically high percentage of owners have raised and plan to raise worker compensation, with a net 29% reported raising compensation (seasonally adjusted) in the last three months and a net 24% plan to do so in the coming months. Seven percent of owners cited labor costs as their top problem.