The NFIB Small Business Jobs Report for May saw the average change in employment at -0.17 after falling to 0.09 in April. The ongoing situation with many businesses closed and/or seeing sharply reduced revenues have led to widespread reductions in payrolls.
The reading for job openings dipped to 23% in May after 24% in April and is at a low not seen in nearly six years. Plans to hire increased slightly to 8% in May after 1% in April and probably reflected hopes of a wider reopening in the economy that could be disappointed if COVID-19 infection rates pick up again.
Unsurprisingly, for those firms hiring, the pool of qualified applicants has expanded and businesses reporting a scarcity of applicants with the desired skills was down to 37% after 41% and at levels not seen in seven years.
Actual compensation continued to decline at 14% in May after 16% in April, but is still above the levels of planned compensation at 10% after 7% in the prior month. However, both are substantially below the trends of the last few years and reflect a softening in the labor market. Gains in pay have lost a lot of momentum and pay increases may be scantier in the aftermath of the downturn.
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