In the recent Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, the level of openings increased by 346,000, while job hires fell 35,000. Openings remain at a high level but began to decline starting in December last year. The fact that the hiring level is lagging the growth in openings is a sign companies are having a difficult time finding qualified individuals to fill open positions. This hiring difficulty is showing up in the NFIB Small Business Optimism Index survey. The most recent NFIB report noted, "22% of owners cited the difficulty of finding qualified workers as their Single Most Important Business Problem, only 4 percentage points below the record high." This strength in the employment area is one sign of a healthy business environment.
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