The NFIB small business jobs report for December — which includes a subset of the numbers in the full report of the Small Business Optimism Index (Tuesday, January 14 at 6:00 ET) — put the average hiring per firm at 0.29, the same as in November. While off the pace in the first half of 2019, the pick up at year-end suggested that concerns about a possible recession have receded and businesses are expecting at least modest expansion for the time being.
Levels of job openings were down, but remained at levels consistent with a healthy labor market. Hiring plans were a bit lower as well, but within the range of readings seen for 2019 as a whole.
Businesses find a lack of qualified workers for open slots persists that seems to be particularly acute for the construction sector. Businesses are factoring in the need to increase compensation to attract and retain workers, and are finding they must spend more than planned.
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