The NFIB Small Business Jobs Report showed the average change in employment per firm down for a third month in a row after a strong 0.49 in January. The April reading of 0.09 showed hiring grinding to a near halt in April. This was the lowest since 0.01 in December 2017 and was consistent with conditions in which a recession was anticipated.
The survey showed an abrupt decline in the percentage of firms’ reported job openings at 24% in April after 35% in March and was the lowest since 24% in September 2016. Plans to hire were shelved with a reading of 1% that was the lowest since 1% in December 2012.
Qualified applicants for open jobs were more plentiful with that reading down to 41% in April after 47% in March and matching the 41% in March 2016.
Businesses increasing compensation were down to 7% in April after 16% in March. Actual changes in compensation were down to 16% after 31% and the lowest since 15% in November 2013.
The report anticipated that the current crisis will result in unemployment rates of between 15% and 25%, at least until displaced workers are called back. At present, many of the jobs lost – whether temporarily or permanently – are among lower skilled and lower compensated workers. However, it would appear that government programs such as the PPP are mitigating and/or delaying the necessity to cut positions that might mean a loss of experienced workers with desirable skillsets.
The full NFIB Small Business Optimism Index report for April will be released at 6:00 ET on Tuesday, May 12.
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