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89% of small businesses say hiring is ‘somewhat or very difficult’: SCORE survey

Here’s something that might be a surprise — or not — for North Bay small-business owners. It’s becoming more difficult to find help.

Even with the persistent complaint echoed by entrepreneurs in stories and surveys in the Business Journal, there’s a survey from the organization SCORE that is providing validation to that feeling.

Just about two-thirds of small-business owners responding to the survey reported “hiring the right talent” was tops among challenges they faced. The percentage of businesses reporting unfilled job openings jumped by 10 percentage points in about a year, the report stated.

When asked what specific issues are making hiring so difficult right now, small businesses reported that the need to raise salary and wages to be competitive (54.7%) was most challenging, followed by an inability to find qualified applicants (53%) and general lack of applicants (48.9%).

The Megaphone of Main Street: Small Business Jobs Report by SCORE reveals that an overwhelming majority (89.5%) of business owners surveyed rated hiring new employees as, "somewhat or very difficult.”

Top reasons for the hiring becoming so challenging was the “need to raise wages to be competitive,” as well being unable to find skilled applicants.

But they also considered lack of health benefits a barrier to hiring for small business.

Researchers compared 2021 data to similar questions from another SCORE survey in 2017 and found that pressure to increase wages to stay competitive now impacts twice as many business owners (54.7%) compared with 2017 survey results (26.2%).

"Workers are leaving their jobs in record numbers due to lack of child care, low wages, fear of COVID-19, long commutes, and changing values and priorities," said Betsy Dougert, vice president of external relations for SCORE. "Those who stay are demanding higher wages and better benefits. Small businesses are struggling to meet this demand, and we encourage business owners to connect with an expert SCORE mentor to troubleshoot these challenges."

The national group was formed in 1964 and through its volunteers helps support small businesses and entrepreneurs.

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