Small business owners’ plans to add positions have weakened but remain relatively high, according to the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), with close to a fifth, or 17% saying in December that they plan to create new jobs in the next three months. That's down just 1 percentage point from November and 15 percentage points below a record high reading of 32% reached in August 2021.
Many struggled to fill open positions last month, with 41% of all owners reporting job openings they could not fill. The share of owners with unfilled job openings continues to exceed the 49-year historical average of 23%, but is 10 percentage points below a record high of 52% reached last July. Overall, 55% of owners reported hiring or trying to hire in December, down 4 percentage points from November.
The share of small business owners citing labor quality as their top operating problem remains elevated at 23%, up 2 percentage points from November, with labor costs identified as the single most important problem for 8% of respondents.
More than two-thirds, or 44% percent of small business owners said they raised compensation to appeal to workers, up 4 percentage points from November. A net 27% of owners said they plan to raise compensation in the next three months.