Florida Chamber: Small business face big problems finding qualified workers


Florida small business owners are worried about finding qualified workers to fill open positions, a new survey found.

The Florida Chamber of Commerce’s Third Quarter Small Business Index Survey released Monday shows access to talent is a top concern among small businesses.

“Florida’s small businesses continue to be concerned about being able to hire a talented workforce,” said Jerry Parrish, Chief Economist and Director of Research at the Florida Chamber Foundation.

“Improving Florida’s talent pipeline for a better workforce will help ensure jobs have talented employees and will help put workers on the path to prosperity – leading goals of Florida 2030, Florida’s next strategic plan.”

The Florida Chamber of Commerce surveyed 130 small businesses. Of those respondents, 27% listed workforce quality as their top concern. The next highest concern was economic uncertainty, with 12% indicating that was their biggest worry as owners anticipate another economic recession.

That concern comes despite Florida’s strong economy and continued job growth. Florida is the 18th most diversified economy in the country, according to the Chamber. Recent jobs report numbers show Florida’s unemployment rate continues to drop as the state continues to surge in private sector job creation.

Less than half of small businesses surveyed believe the state’s economy will improve. That’s down from 57% last year and 70% two years ago. Still, businesses reported an uptick in confidence that they could access financing in the next six-months with 24% saying they thought it would be easier than in the past compared to just 15% in the last quarter survey.

Access to financing is a key tool for businesses to grow.

“Florida’s economy is dependent on the small business community, and the Florida Chamber’s Small Business Council remains committed to advocating on their behalf,” said Glenda Hood, Chair of the Florida Chamber’s Small Business Council, and President of Hood Partners LLC.

Other concerns in the latest survey include growth management, government relations and health care costs.

Despite concerns, 65% of respondents expect to have higher sales this year than last. That’s up from 62% last year, but down from 70% two years ago.

The Florida Chamber conducted its survey June 6 through July 5. Of the respondents, 56% employed fewer than five employees with 32% employing six to 40 employees.

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year.


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