Nearly 50% of small businesses in Wisconsin and New Hampshire say they will need to hire new workers in the next six months as restrictions lift and states reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to data released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau.
The statistics come from the bureau’s Small Business Pulse Survey, launched last year to collect “near real-time” data on the effects of the pandemic on small businesses. The most recent data release covers responses received from businesses from June 28 to July 4.
Nationally, close to 36% of the small businesses surveyed say they need to identify and hire new employees in the next six months. That number has remained steady for the seven most recent weeks’ worth of survey data. Among specific industries, more than 57% of accommodation and food service businesses say they need workers – by far the largest percentage among the different segments. About 28% of small business respondents from the most recent week of data say they will also need to increase marketing and sales in the next six months.
Despite the clear need for employees, small business owners are having trouble finding them, and 21% say employee availability has impacted their ability to do business, according to a recent analysis of the Census Bureau data by LendingTree.
“Every company everywhere is hiring,” said Matt Schulz, LendingTree’s chief industry analyst, in the study. “It’s an enormously competitive time in the job market, and companies are being forced to explore every option to attract top talent. That means everything from changing their remote working policy to offering big salaries to providing unlimited time off.”
Other states with the most need for workers in the next six months include Hawaii (42.8%), Michigan (41.6%), Alabama (40.9%) and Oregon (40.9%). More than 41% of respondents in Washington, D.C., also said they need to hire new employees. States with the lowest percentages of small business hiring needs include Wyoming (19.5%), North Dakota (26.2%), Oklahoma (26.4%), New Mexico (27.1%) and Alaska (27.1%).
While the bureau’s data indicates that small businesses are in need, there are also signs of optimism as the pandemic shows signs of receding. For many consecutive weeks of survey data – dating back to March – more small businesses surveyed said they have had an increase in the number of paid employees than have had a decrease. And when asked how much time will pass before a business will return to its normal level of operations, 22% of respondents in the most recent data release said this has already happened for them. This number has been increasing in recent weeks.
The bureau notes that while the Small Business Pulse Survey data “may not meet some of the Census Bureau’s statistical quality standards,” the results give federal, state and local officials statistics “to aid in policy and decision-making.”