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W.Va. Small Business Employers Hard-Pressed to Find Qualified Workers


The latest monthly survey results are in from the National Foundation of Independent Business. Data indicate the small business climate in West Virginia would be great, except that no one can find qualified applicants to fill vacancies.

39 percent of small business owners reported having job openings they could not fill (seasonally adjusted). That’s a record high for this survey which first began collecting monthly surveys in 1986.

60 percent of owners reported hiring or trying to hire, but nine out of ten of those reported receiving few or no qualified applicants for the position. The top two industries surveyed were construction (49 percent of respondents) and manufacturing (42 percent of respondents). In the labor market “qualified” includes specific work-related skills but also covers appearance, attitude, social skills, wage expectations, as well as work history.

23 percent of business owners said difficulty finding qualified workers is their single most important business problem.

Meanwhile West Virginia unemployment rate is the third-highest in the country at 5.2 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Workforce participation in the state remains among the lowest in the country -- at about 53 percent.

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