The latest MetLife/U.S. Chamber of Commerce survey of small businesses, conducted between September 30 – October 7, 2021, shows that those who have initiated the hiring process are finding it more difficult now than this summer to find candidates to fill job openings. Although more small businesses report a likelihood to hire new talent this year (compared to early summer), optimism about hiring is muted, suggesting America’s labor supply crisis shows no signs of letting up.
More small businesses say it is hard to find job candidates. Forty-four percent say it is hard to find job candidates to fill open positions, up from 33% saying the same in June. Finding candidates with the right experience is harder: 46% say it is hard to find candidates with the needed experience, compared to 35% who said the same in June.
More small businesses say they are likely to hire this year—but in practice, many are holding back. Currently, around three in five small business owners say they are likely to or already hiring in 2021, up 10 percentage points from June. Despite these intentions, only about one-third say they have actively searched for, recruited, or interviewed new talent this year, unchanged from June.
Majority supports COVID-19 vaccine requirements. Sixty-four percent of small businesses support both businesses in their area requiring vaccines for their staff and the federal government requiring businesses with 100 or more employees to require vaccines or regular testing for their staff.
More small businesses require proof of COVID-19 vaccination for customers. About half (51%) of small businesses say they are likely to, or already require, proof of vaccination from customers. This represents a shift in attitudes on vaccine requirements from June (38% said they were likely/already doing so), before COVID-19 variants worsened the pandemic.
The majority of small businesses support mask requirements for staff and customers. A majority of small business owners across all regions, sizes, and sectors say they are likely to, or already have, implemented mask requirements for staff (69%) and customers (66%) at their business.
Most small businesses see a return to normal as distant. Over half (56%) of small businesses think the small business climate will not return to normal for at least six months, with more than one in ten (13%) saying it will never return to normal.
Source: U.S. Chamber
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