Nationally, nearly half of all small businesses report unfilled job openings; Washington business leader says pandemic magnified worker shortage here.

The latest NFIB jobs report identifies the labor shortage as a major challenge facing small businesses across the country. 

According to NFIB’s monthly jobs report, 46% of small business owners reported job openings they could not fill in the current period, down two points from May but still above the 48-year historical average of 22%. Small business owners continue to struggle to find qualified workers for their open positions while raising compensation at a record high level.

“In the busy summer season, many firms haven’t been able to hire enough workers to efficiently run their businesses, which has restricted sales and output,” said NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg. “In June, we saw a record high percent of owners raising compensation to help attract needed employees and job creation plans also remain at record highs. Owners are doing everything they can to get back to a full, productive staff.”

A net 39% (seasonally adjusted) of owners reported raising compensation (up five points), a record high. A net 26% plan to raise compensation in the next three months (up four points).

In his column, Association of Washington Business president Kris Johnson writes that Washington employers face the same challenge.

Today, most COVID-related business restrictions are lifted, and the economy is beginning to recover from the pandemic. In nearly every community, “Help Wanted” signs are common in store windows and more employers across more industries are offering signing bonuses today than we’ve ever seen.

Compared to the challenges we faced a year ago, it’s a good problem to have. But unless something is done to address the escalating workforce crisis, it will be a drag on long-term economic recovery.

A lack of skilled and qualified workers was a big issue for many employers prior to the pandemic. The pandemic has exposed and magnified the issue, as it has so many others.

We’re optimistic that eventually the jobs will be filled and the economic recovery will accelerate. Read Johnson’s column for some ideas of what will move that recovery along.