(Bloomberg) — US small-business homeowners dialed again hiring plans for a third-straight month in December and a smaller share had unfilled positions, as corporations continued to face excessive labor prices and an absence of certified candidates.

A web 17% of small corporations deliberate so as to add employees, down 1 proportion level from the prior month and the fewest in virtually two years, in keeping with information out Thursday from the Nationwide Federation of Unbiased Enterprise.

Some 41% of corporations had open positions they could not fill, down 3 factors from November. Whereas openings have fallen since matching a document of 51% final yr, they’re nonetheless traditionally elevated.

“Small-business homeowners stay pissed off with the present labor state of affairs,” Invoice Dunkelberg, NFIB chief economist, mentioned in a press release. “The development in deliberate hiring eased barely as labor high quality and labor value are two high points for homeowners. Homeowners raised compensation once more in December to draw and retain staff.”

Some 44% of small-business homeowners boosted compensation, a rise from a month earlier and a share that is still nicely above pre-pandemic ranges. Labor high quality was cited as a high labor market concern by 23% of small corporations, up 2 factors from November.

About 8% of respondents mentioned labor prices have been their single most essential drawback, down a degree from the prior month.

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