According to NFIB’s monthly jobs report, 42% (seasonally adjusted) of small business owners reported job openings they could not fill in the current period, a record reading. The March reading is 20 points higher than the 48-year historical average of 22%.

“This survey is shows what a tough position Wisconsin small business owner are in,” said Bill G. Smith, NFIB State Director in Wisconsin. “While many of our entrepreneurs in the restaurant, hospitality, and retail industries have been devastated by the mandates and shutdowns associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, others are working hard to strengthen job growth, but have been frustrated by the lack of qualified workers. Our small business owners are leading the recovery of the state’s economy, which is why it is so important lawmakers focus on policies that will help our small business owners recover during these challenging economic times.”

Overall, job growth continued in March with firms increasing employment by 0.42 workers per firm on average over the past few months. Fifty-six percent of owners reported hiring or trying to hire in March, unchanged from February. Owners have plans to fill open positions with a net 22% (seasonally adjusted) planning to create new jobs in the next three months, 11 points above the 48-year historical average.

Thirty-four percent of owners have openings for skilled workers and 19% have openings for unskilled labor. In the construction industry, 50% of the job openings are for skilled workers. Fifty-five percent of construction firms reported few or no qualified applicants (down six points) and 38% cited the shortage of qualified labor as their top business problem (up three points).

Finding qualified employees remains a problem for small business owners. Ninety-one percent of those owners trying to hire reported few or no “qualified” applicants for the positions they were trying to fill in March. Twenty-eight percent of owners reported few qualified applicants for their open positions and 23% reported none.

A net 28% (seasonally adjusted) of owners reported raising compensation, up three points from February and the highest level in the past 12 months. A net 17% plan to raise compensation in the next three months, down two points.

Seven percent of owners cited labor costs as their top business problem and 24% said that labor quality was their top business problem and the top overall concern.

Click here to view the full NFIB jobs report.