From the WSJ -
The number of small companies raising wages hit a record high in the U.S. this month. That’s according to the latest National Federation of Independent Business employment survey, due out later today. A full 35% of owners of small firms report increasing labor compensation, the highest percentage since NFIB started asking about it in 1986.
Companies have been looking to increase hiring and are paying more to attract scarce workers. “Reports of employment gains remain strong among small businesses. Owners reported adding a net 0.20 workers per firm on average, slower than earlier in the year but strong. The availability of qualified workers is impeding the growth in employment. Job openings are at record high levels,& rdquo; adds NFIB Chief Economist William Dunkelberg.
NFIB also finds that 23% of business owners now cite the difficulty of finding qualified workers as their “single most important business problem.” This is just one percentage point below the record high set in 2000. The labor shortage is most acute in the construction industry, with 57% of such firms reporting current job openings. Other industries where wages are also rising to attract workers include transportation, travel, communication, utilities and manufacturing.
“Labor markets are very tight, for both skilled and unskilled workers,” adds Mr. Dunkel berg, who is expecting a further decline in the unemployment rate when the Labor Department on Friday issues its monthly report on the broader U.S. economy. The NFIB economist is expecting the government will report “job creation around 170,000, absent a surprise increase in the labor force participation rate.”
Such a surprise would be most welcome. It would likely signal that discouraged workers who left the job market during the recent era of sluggish economic growth are rejoining the workforce to seize new opportunities.