Small business industries that are itching to hire

Next Insurance used survey data from the National Federation of Independent Business to identify the top industries where small businesses are hiring.


Two carpenters reviewing work on laptop.

SeventyFour // Shutterstock

Individuals looking for work may want to search beyond well-known corporations and include small businesses in their job search. Many small businesses are actively on the hunt for employees. In fact, according to a report by the National Federation of Independent Business, 40% of small business owners have job openings they need to—and want to—fill.

Next Insurance used survey data from the National Federation of Independent Business to identify the industries where the highest shares of small businesses are hiring. The NFIB survey was conducted in December 2023 among a random sample of 10,000 small business owners who are federation members, of which 518 responded.

The highest number of businesses with job openings for that period were in construction and transportation, the NFIB survey shows. Businesses involved in agriculture and finance had the fewest number of owners reporting open positions. Part of the difficulty small business owners face is finding qualified applicants, with 33% seeking skilled workers. 

Many owners plan to draw in more applicants by increasing compensation for these open positions—a trend that has continued post-COVID. The Chamber of Commerce recommends small businesses offer flexible work schedules and employee wellness discounts, for example, to remain competitive. These new benefits are meant to enhance the compensation that many business owners already offer, such as health benefits and PTO.

Another NFIB report found that 9 in 10 businesses hiring or trying to hire had few or no qualified applicants. Those interested in construction or transportation—among the other industries most hiring—may find the right fit with a small business. 

In many industries, small businesses struggle to hire and retain employees.


Transportation and construction businesses are most eager to hire

A bar chart showing the share of respondent firms with job openings by industry.

Next Insurance

Transportation and construction are two sectors of small businesses seeking skilled workers. Some of these businesses help train prospective workers through education programs and apprenticeships.

The transportation industry will need to hire a younger workforce in order to keep positions filled. The U.S. Department of Transportation noted at the 2022 year-end review that approximately one-quarter (24%) of transportation workers were over the age of 55. Additionally, almost half (42.7%) of transit workers are over 55. 

As these employees retire, younger workers will need to take their place. Transportation companies are also increasing their labor force. HireRight's 2022 U.S. Transportation Spotlight Report lists "online job boards, employee referrals, and social media" as the most effective methods to connect transportation businesses with prospective employees. 

The construction industry provides another opportunity for workers seeking employment with small businesses. A Feb 2023 article by Associated Builders and Contractors stated that in 2024, 342,000 additional workers will need to be hired on top of the annual hiring figures in order to meet industry demand. 

Older workers continue to age out of the industry, spurring efforts to make more accessible training and apprenticeship programs. For instance, in 2021, members of ABC invested $1.6 billion to educate people interested in construction.


Story editing by Shannon Luders-Manuel and Jeff Inglis. Copy editing by Paris Close.


This story originally appeared on Next Insurance and was produced and distributed in partnership with Stacker Studio.

Powered by Creative Circle Media Solutions