A lack of qualified applicants was cited as the primary reason...

A lack of qualified applicants was cited as the primary reason for difficulties in filling open positions since May. Credit: Newsday/Steve Pfost

More than 70% of New York State manufacturers reported having difficulty hiring workers since May, according to a survey published Tuesday by the New York Federal Reserve.

A second Fed survey of leaders from service businesses in the metropolitan area echoed that result. The Business Leaders Survey, also released Tuesday, found that 62.9% had difficulty hiring workers since May.

Long Island businesses were canvassed in both studies.

Roughly one in five businesses in both surveys said they had no job openings to fill since May; but among manufacturers with vacant positions nearly nine in 10 reported problems in hiring.

A lack of qualified applicants was the primary reason cited for difficulties in filling open positions since May, according to both the monthly business leaders report (50.5%) and the Empire State Manufacturing Survey (58.9%).

Matthew Cohen, president and chief executive of the Long Island Association business group, said that the issues cited in the surveys mirror those of business leaders in Nassau and Suffolk counties.

"The results of this survey are not surprising because we've been hearing similar sentiments from the business community on Long Island," he said.

Almost three in 10 respondents in the business leaders survey cited failure to meet applicants' compensation demands as a reason for hiring issues. That compared to 23.2% in the manufacturers survey.

Less frequently cited reasons included applicants who failed or refused drug tests or who had health concerns related to COVID-19.

The surveys also allowed businesses to write in factors beyond those listed. Several mentioned generous unemployment benefits and job applicants "ghosting" them — not showing up for interviews or work once hired.

Cohen said that the COVID-19 pandemic has given rise to changes in the expectations of job applicants and that employers may need to provide more job flexibility, such as remote work, to attract and retain talent.

Almost four in 10 respondents to the Business Leaders Survey and roughly a third of participating manufacturers reported that they had seen a decrease in applicants per job.

Still, Cohen said that with enhanced unemployment benefits set to expire next month, strong consumer confidence and an expanding economy, he expects hiring issues to ease.

The Business Leaders Survey is sent monthly to a pool of about 150 top executives running service sector firms in New York State, northern New Jersey and Fairfield County, Connecticut. The latest responses were collected between Aug. 2 and Aug. 9.

The Empire State Manufacturing Survey is sent monthly to about 200 manufacturing executives in New York State. Survey responses were accepted until Aug. 15.

Latest Videos