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Half of Indiana small business owners have jobs they can't fill; near record high wages

Half of Indiana small business owners have jobs they can't fill; near record high wages

Half of Indiana small business owners can't find the employees they need in a tight labor market, but optimism improved slightly last month.

The National Federation of Independent Businesses rose to 100.1 in August, up 0.4 points from the previous month. The NFIB's Uncertainty Index fell seven points to 69, the lowest the survey has found in Indiana since January 2016.

“I would hope that more people than economists are taking note of this disturbing trend,” said Barbara Quandt, NFIB state director in Indiana. “The stagnant optimism, coupled with the other NFIB troubling statistic that half of small businesses can’t find qualified workers translates into a troubling sign: many small business owners may not survive the next few months. Here in Indiana, we need to do everything we can to help support out entrepreneurs and their employees, who are the foundation of our economy.”

The number of small business owners in Indiana who reported they could not fill jobs rose one point to 50% in August, a record high for the second consecutive month. About 22% of small business owners surveyed in Indiana by the National Federation of Independent Businesses reported unfilled job openings historically over the last 48 years.

About 26% of employers said they plan to raise wages, down one point from a record high in July. A total of 10% named labor cost their biggest business problem, while 28% identified labor quality as the biggest challenge facing their business.

In the largest survey, 55% of small business owners invested capital in the last six months, unchanged from the previous month. About 41% spent on new equipment, 22% on vehicles and 16% on facility improvements or expansions. Just 6% bought land or buildings for future growth.

About 30% of businesses surveyed expect to make investments in the next six months, according to the NFIB.

About 37% of small business owners said supply chain disruptions have had a significant impact, while 29% said they have had a moderate impact, the survey found. Only 13% of small business owners in Indiana report no impact from the rampant supply chain interruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

About 11% of small business owners plan to invest in their inventory in the next few months, a five-point increase as compared to July.price hikes.

Amid declining profitability, a seasonally-adjusted net of 49% of small businesses have been raising their prices, an increase of three points, according to the NFIB. Wholesale, manufacturing and retail were most likely to plan price hikes.

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Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.

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