Employment reports from the past few months have found the unemployment rate shrinking as more people get jobs, but some companies are having trouble filling all of their open positions. According to The Wall Street Journal, many small businesses have been unable to find the qualified applicants they need.
Small businesses struggling
A survey of 848 smaller organizations conducted by the new source revealed that 33 percent of them had jobs left unfilled because they couldn't find people with relevant skills. Similar surveys two years ago showed that 31 percent of 811 companies surveyed had the same problem at that time.
Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that unemployment is at a six-year low of 6.1 percent. The shrinking number of people looking for jobs was thought to be one factor in the difficulty that some businesses have had finding workers. The WSJ pointed out several other reasons that smaller companies, especially those that have not been in business long, have trouble filling some positions.
"They have limited infrastructure to reach out to potential job applicants," Aaron Chatterji, of the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University, told the news source.
Larger businesses tend to have more extensive support structures, such as human resources departments and access to recruiters, that allow them to reach a larger number of job candidates. Lacking such employees, small business owners often have to do hiring for their own companies.
A lack of people with proper training in the workforce has stunted the growth of some organizations, which have been forced to turn projects down due to staff limitations. Jerry Schill, who owns a landscaping company in Ohio, told the news source that he was unable to fill managerial positions paying up to $75,000 per year. If he could find employees for the jobs, Schill said that he could expand his company by 20 percent.
High pay for high demand
The WSJ study showed that 43 percent of small businesses were in a position similar to Schill's, with a lack of qualified job candidates holding them back from expansion. High-performing employees do more than just fill jobs – they can help companies innovate and grow. Because of their importance, small organizations are often willing to pay a premium for their service. The owner of one power equipment distributor said that she raised senior technician salaries from $12 to $20 per hour, while another business owner said he pays 10 percent more than the market rate to attract electrical engineers.