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Survey shows small businesses in Ohio still struggle to find workers

Special to the Legal News

Published: October 10, 2019

Ohio's small business owners have a hiring problem, according to a recent survey.

The National Federation of Independent Business said a survey of 22,000 members in Ohio echoed sentiments nationwide that finding qualified workers was a No. 1 concern.

The national survey indicated that 27 percent of small business owners reported finding talent is their top problem.

"In papers across Ohio every week, there is a report of an impending recession, but that is not what we are hearing. Small business owners are continuing to produce and grow in spite of the negative headlines. The main impediment for Ohio entrepreneurs to grow at an even more rapid rate is the need to find qualified workers that can show up on time, pass a drug test, and have basic customer service skills," said Roger Geiger, vice president and executive director for NFIB in Ohio.

Three-quarters of those surveyed in Ohio said finding qualified employees hindered respondents' ability to grow or expand their businesses with the nearly same amount responding that candidates lacked soft skills such as a strong work ethic, timeliness and customer service.

More than one-third of employers said applicants cannot pass a drug test.

Nearly 70 percent anticipate having open positions that will be difficult to fill in the next six months and that the school system does not prepare students for the workforce.

Ninety-five percent of employers believe students should be encouraged to pursue trade careers.

"When we try to employ individuals not currently working, they either can't pass a drug test, don't want to work, or have no work ethic once hired. Our company is faced with trying to hire from the pool of those already working, taking employees from other companies by allowing them to move up and make more," said Brent Dudgeon, a member in Bellville, in a statement.

Ohio's unemployment rate was 4.1 percent in August down from 4.6 percent in August 2018, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.

Several businesses have told The Daily Reporter that finding talent was a challenge and even more acute in some industries this year.

While ODJFS said central Ohio's not-seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 3.8 percent, local economist Bill LaFayette said the region's seasonal-adjusted estimates were lower at 3.6 percent.

"The labor force was essentially unchanged, but the number of MSA residents who were working increased 1,200. So the decline in the unemployment rate was for the right reason. The number of jobs in the MSA was pretty flat, except for a seasonally-adjusted decline in leisure and hospitality," Bill LaFayette, the owner of Regionomics LLC, said on the firm's Facebook page. "More interesting are the eight-month average changes. Year to date, the labor force is up a very healthy 1.7 (percent) and residential employment is up 2 (percent). The number of jobs in the MSA is up only 1.2 (percent), however. That is the weakest growth of the expansion by far, and exactly the growth I forecast in January. I would much rather have been too low."

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