Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Axios on your phone

Get breaking news and scoops on the go with the Axios app.

Download for free.

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!
Expand chart
Data: NFIB; Chart: Axios Visuals

Small business owners' optimism improved during April, even as many struggled to fill open positions.

Why it matters: Small businesses were hit hard with closures at the beginning of the pandemic, and an uneven recovery has proved that business owners still face a mountain of uncertainty.

The details: The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index increased 1.6 points in April, to 99.8, from a month before.

  • The index is up from a reading of 95 in January, but down from 104 in the fall.
  • The reading is about 2 points above the historical average.

The labor picture appears to be improving, but slowly. Firms surveyed hired an average of 0.31 workers over the past few months.

What they're saying: "Small business owners are seeing a growth in sales but are stunted by not having enough workers. Finding qualified employees remains the biggest challenge for small businesses and is slowing economic growth," says Bill Dunkelberg, the group's chief economist.

  • "Owners are raising compensation, offering bonuses and benefits to attract the right employees."

Yes, but: 44% (seasonally adjusted) of all owners reported being unable to fill job openings, up 2 percentage points from March.

  • About 8% cited labor costs as their top business problem, and 24% said that labor quality was their top problem.

Inflation watch: Businesses are raising prices at a rate not seen since the early 80s. A net 36% of small business owners are hiking prices, up 10 points over March (seasonally adjusted).

Go deeper

Alabama governor orders end to federal COVID unemployment benefits

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey. Photo: Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) on Monday ordered the state to terminate all participation in federally funded pandemic unemployment compensation programs.

Why it matters: Ivey, like South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster (R), cited labor shortages, but some experts say it's the job climate and not unemployment benefits that is determining people's return to work.

Linh Ta, author of Des Moines
May 11, 2021 - Axios Des Moines

Iowa governor to end federal pandemic unemployment aid

Data: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; Chart: Axios Visuals

Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) announced this morning that Iowa is joining a group of red states that are ending the federal government's pandemic unemployment aid — including the supplemental $300 per week — June 12, months before it sunsets in September.

Why it matters: The federal supplement is meant to keep Americans afloat after a year of enormous financial hardships and job losses. But with the economy on the verge of reopening, employers say they're struggling to find enough workers to fill open jobs.

Linh Ta, author of Des Moines
May 11, 2021 - Axios Des Moines

Iowa struggles with worker shortage despite uptick in unemployment

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

There's no doubt you've stumbled across a "Now Hiring" sign at the drive-thru or grocery store.

  • Like the rest of the U.S., Iowa employers say there's a shortage of available employees in industries like construction and hospitality as the economy picks back up.

Why it matters: The inability to fill open jobs has an immediate impact on our everyday lives, like long waits at our favorite restaurants.

  • Long-term though, it slows our economic recovery and stifles business expansions.