44 percent of small businesses can't find enough workers to hire
May 13, 2021 | 11:04 am CDT
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44 percent of American small businesses could not fill job positions in the month of April, according to a survey from the National Federation of Small Businesses. The NFIB is the nation's largest small-business lobbying group.

“Small-business owners are seeing a growth in sales but are stunted by not having enough workers,” said NFIB chief economist Bill Dunkelberg. “Finding qualified employees remains the biggest challenge for small businesses and is slowing economic growth.”

The latest jobs report indicates that businesses have a record 8.1 million jobs to fill, as of March. This marks the first time ever that the number has surpassed 8 million.

A polarizing debate has sprung up about why these numbers are as high as they are. 

Many business leaders say it's because of overly generous jobless benefits - particularly the Biden Administration's extension of a $300 per week increase on unemployment insurance. In some states, benefits can be as high as $600 per week.

That comes to equal around $16 an hour, nearly double the federal minimum wage.

Many Republicans are saying the same and have urged Congress to end federal unemployment benefits. A few Republican-controlled states have reapplied rules that require people to be actively searching for jobs. Montana has even stopped unemployment benefits altogether, instead adding a one-time $1,200 return-to-work bonus. 

The Biden Administration and Democrats instead blamed closed schools and daycare centers, saying many parents are staying home to watch their kids. They also think numbers will improve as people become less afraid of the virus.

Struggling to find workers is not a new issue for the woodworking industry and the trades in general. In a survey Woodworking Network conducted in early 2019, 80 percent of respondents said they're having trouble finding workers. And 65 percent of those said they're raising pay and benefits in an attempt to cope. 42 percent said they're opting to lower hiring standards.

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About the author
Robert Dalheim

Robert Dalheim is an editor at the Woodworking Network. Along with publishing online news articles, he writes feature stories for the FDMC print publication. He can be reached at robert.dalheim@woodworkingnetwork.com.