Nearly one in three small businesses are using technology to compensate for a shortage of workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new survey.
The Verizon-MorningConsult survey of 600 U.S. small businesses published Wednesday found that 30% of business owners have adopted digital tools to help maintain operations amid a labor shortage.
Additionally, nearly 40% of business owners are using technology to help onboard and train new workers, and nearly 40% of businesses experienced declining employee productivity.
“There is still a long road ahead for recovery but there is an overwhelming sense of optimism; that technology will enable the competitive edge our customers need to scale their business for the future,” Sampath Sowmyanarayan, chief revenue officer for Verizon Business, said in a Wednesday statement.
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He added that as Verizon “customers enter their next phase of growth, technology that addresses security, reliable connectivity and enables mobility will be integral to their success.”
More than 60% of business decision-makers are using “digital tools and technologies to enhance customer experiences and create new business opportunities,” according to the survey.
By comparison, more than 50% of decision-makers were using similar tools at the same time last year.
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In August of 2020, 61% of small businesses reduced employee hours compared to 48% in 2021. In 2020, 43% of decision-makers laid off employees compared to 35% in 2021.
The survey found that technology adaption has increased significantly for small businesses overall since August 2020.
The total number of job openings rose by 749,000 to a seasonally adjusted 10.934 million at the end of July, according to data from the Labor Department’s Job Opening and Labor Turnover Survey, or JOLTS, released Wednesday.
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The number of job openings in June was revised higher by 112,000 to 10.185 million. Economists surveyed by Refinitiv were expecting 10 million available jobs.
U.S. hiring slowed sharply last month as a resurgence in COVID-19 infections stunted job gains. Nonfarm payrolls added 235,000 workers in August, widely missing the 728,000 jobs that were expected. More than 1.05 million jobs were added in July.
September is shaping up to be a critical month for the fate of the U.S. economy as the labor market’s recovery and the Federal Reserve’s tapering and rate-hike plans remain in limbo.
Many small businesses, particularly in the service and hospitality industries, expressed concerns about worker shortages throughout the summer. Some business owners have offered incentives and higher minimum wages in an effort to bring in more workers and, as a result, more business.
Fox Business’ Jonathan Garber contributed to this report.