U.S. Representative Young Kim (CA-39), who serves as Ranking Member of the House Small Business Subcommittee on Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Workforce Development, at the Subcommittee hearing urged for policy solutions to empower small businesses with resources to address the skills gap, promote career and technical education opportunities and restore the small business economy so our job creators can prosper.
Watch her full opening remarks here or read her statement below as prepared for delivery:
Thank you, Chairman Crow, for holding this topical hearing, and thank you to our witnesses for testifying.
Our entrepreneurs are our nation’s job creators. Their innovative products and services fuel our communities. They take risks, train employees, and provide two-thirds of all new jobs.
As a small business owner, I know the adversities and obstacles that small businesses must overcome to succeed. The hurdles small businesses are facing right now are high. Inflation is soaring, supply chains are in chaos, and regulations are mounting.
Small businesses are also facing historic job openings and labor shortages. Recent job numbers show positive growth as we reopen from the pandemic and mandates come to an end. However, the current job market contains of 1.14 million less employed workers than prior to the pandemic, and main street still struggles to find employees. The most recent Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary reported 11.3 million job openings. Recent surveys report over half of all small business owners are having trouble finding qualified people to hire compared to a year ago. NFIB surveys also indicate historically large numbers of small businesses are struggling to increase their workforce, despite almost half of all employers raising wages. Further, 22 percent of small business owners reported labor costs as the top business problem, just two points below December’s 48-year record high. These staffing shortages have a direct impact on our economy. 77 percent of small business owners reported that staffing shortages are resulting in significant to mild lost sales opportunities
Small businesses do not just need to fill open positions, but they also need qualified and skilled workers. In February, 61 percent of small businesses reported hiring or trying to hire employees, and an astounding 93 percent of those small employers hiring or trying to hire reported few or no qualified applicants for the open positions.
Inaction is not an option, as small businesses place “help wanted” signs on their doors and innovation is stifled due to a lack of workers. The Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council found that just 5 percent of small business owners agree that “Congress’s policies are helping the economy and small businesses…” Only 5 percent. We must change that and enact pro-growth policies that support small businesses in meeting their workforce needs and consumer demand.
Republican Members on this Committee have solutions. I am proud to have introduced the bipartisan H.R. 6450, the SCORE for Small Business Act of 2022. The SCORE program provides mentorship, education, and training opportunities for small businesses. Recently, SCORE has hosted webinars for small business owners on adapting to the trends transforming the workforce. By authorizing and modernizing this important program, we can ensure that the SBA’s resource partners are prepared to help entrepreneurs meet their business needs, including labor and workforce development. Additionally, my colleague, Vice Ranking Member Williams, has bipartisan legislation to utilize the Small Business Development Centers and Women’s Business Centers to assist small businesses in hiring Career and Technical Education (CTE) graduates.
There is no one-sized fits all solution to meet the diverse demands of our unique small business communities. However, I am confident that we can work together to empower small businesses with resources to address the skills gap, promote career and technical education opportunities, encourage apprenticeships, and restore the small business economy so our job creators can prosper.
I look forward to hearing from our witnesses today, and I hope to work with my colleagues to find real solutions to support our small businesses in finding labor and closing the skills gap.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I yield back.