State employers having difficulty filling open positions, new survey finds

Published 8:00 am Friday, July 13, 2018

Half of North Carolina employers are having difficulty filling open positions, according to the results of a new survey of business hiring needs from late 2016 to early 2018.

The 2018 Employer Needs Survey was published by the NCWorks Commission and conducted on its behalf by the North Carolina Department of Commerce’s Labor & Economic Analysis Division.

“These results reflect what I hear from business leaders time and again: they often have jobs but can’t find workers with the right skills to fill them,” said Gov. Roy Cooper. “We must get people who are looking for jobs together with businesses who want them. Getting North Carolina job ready means listening to what businesses need so we can prepare North Carolinians for the jobs of today and tomorrow.”

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The 2018 Employer Needs Survey, an update to similar surveys released in 2014 and in 2016, asked more than 2,000 North Carolina businesses about their hiring practices, with an emphasis on hiring difficulties and workforce needs. In addition to an overall sample of all industries, researchers surveyed a sample of manufacturers and a set of science, technology, engineering and mathematics-related industries.

Among the findings of the survey were:

• Fifty percent of employers who tried to hire in the past year had difficulty filling at least one position, up from about 40 percent in 2016

• Manufacturers and STEM-related businesses found it more challenging to fill positions than employers as a whole, with nearly 60 percent reporting difficulty hiring

• Employers in the state’s two largest metropolitan areas (Charlotte and the Research Triangle) had less difficulty hiring (40 percent) than businesses overall, while employers in the state’s medium-sized metro areas had more difficulty (61 percent)

• The top two reasons employers gave for their hiring difficulties were “employability” issues (such as a lack of a strong work ethic, professionalism or reliability) and a low number of applicants

• Seventy percent of rural employers cited a low number of applicants as the top reason for difficulty, a significantly higher percentage than that of employers as a whole (55 percent)

• Eighty-eight percent of all employers said that they attempted to fill at least one position in the past year

• Prospects for job growth remain strong, with 43.3 percent of employers expecting the size of their own workforce to increase this year, and only 2.3 percent of employers expecting it to decrease

Assisting the commission with the Employer Needs Survey were the Center for Urban Affairs and Community Services at North Carolina State University and the Division of Workforce Solutions at the North Carolina Department of Commerce. Grant funding from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration supported the project.

– Submitted article