Small business report reveals sustained confidence in the economy, workforce needs
Optimism among small businesses continues to climb, according to the latest National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) report.
The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index hit the top 10% of all readings in its 46-year history.
NFIB chief economist William Dunkelberg underscored the health of the current environment for small business.
“2020 is off to an explosive start for the small business economy, with owners expecting increased sales, earnings, and higher wages for employees,” he said in a statement from his organization following the report’s release. “Small businesses continue to build on the solid foundation of supportive federal tax policies and a deregulatory environment that allows owners to put an increased focus on operating and growing their businesses.”
The report also revealed another essential area of focus for small business in this state.
“The report reflects the No. 1 issue facing Alabama businesses: the lack of a qualified, trained workforce,” stated NFIB Alabama state director Rosemary Elebash. “Alabama’s unemployment rate stands at 2.7 percent, which is below the national average, but small business owners here are scrambling to backfill jobs as their workforce is hired by other companies.”
Estimates are that the state will need to produce an additional 500,000 trained workers within the next five years to address the impending workforce needs of Alabama’s economy.
Elebash outlined her organization’s effort with state leaders to seek solutions to this building dilemma.
“NFIB is working with the Ivey administration to promote the new State Office of Apprenticeship and the Alabama Community College system’s efforts to create curriculums that address the needs of employers around the state,” she noted.
Earlier this week, a study group assembled by Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth reported its findings and recommendations after months examining the issue.
Its primary recommendation was the creation of a cabinet-level coordinating agency called the Office of Talent and Workforce Development.
The report also calls for increased investment in areas highlighted by many of the state’s pre-existing workforce development initiatives; technical education, STEM classes for K-12 students, coordination between government and industry, and bringing people back into the workforce through retraining.
Elebash believes the commission’s report addresses some important concerns for all employers in the state.
“The Lt. Gov.’s Commission on 21st Century Workforce report strongly supports expanding Alabama’s workforce for small and large employers in metro and rural areas,” she emphasized to Yellowhammer News. “The report supports expanding workforce to include apprenticeships and career coaches at the secondary school level. The goal of having 500,000 new employees by 2025 will require the participation of all business sectors and small business owners look forward to participating.”
Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia