Miami businesses have rarely felt more optimistic about the future.
There's just one big problem they can't seem to shake: finding good help.
According to the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce and CPA firm MBAF's 2018 Executive Survey, 47 percent of members listed "finding qualified professional employees" as their top concern in the coming year.
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Although that has been the top concern for the past three years running, an increasing number of people are saying so — just 38 percent named it as the top concern in 2016.
Tony Argiz, CEO and chairman of MBAF and one of the producers of the survey, said that low unemployment, while great for workers, is starting to impact businesses. He noted his firm is currently trying to fill at least 40 different openings.
"When unemployment is so low, [it means] the skilled workers have already taken jobs elsewhere," he said.
In parallel, 41 percent of respondents say they plan to invest more heavily in recruitment — a 10 point jump from last year.
The survey did not ask about whether this was having an impact on salaries, but Argiz said he has heard anecdotally that wages are rising for skilled workers.
Trouble filling jobs is not unique to Miami — the U.S. now has one job opening for every person looking for a job. While there has been a national discussion about whether a skills mismatch is driving the issue, the problem is compounded in unique ways in South Florida. As one unnamed Chamber respondent stated, Miami's reputation for being a transient city can lead to a "short term investment mentality" that makes selling a prospective employee on committing to a firm that much more difficult.
Alfred Sanchez, president and CEO of the Chamber, said leading businesses are starting to work more closely with South Florida's three main universities to ensure graduates are emerging job ready.
"Everyone here in Miami-Dade is seeing eye to eye on what the issue is," he said.
The Chamber-MBAF survey is the product of responses from 266 local business leaders. In a sign of the region's changing economy, more than 46 percent of respondents were from companies with 25 or fewer employees, and 26 percent were from ones with five or fewer.
"Maybe 10 or 15 or 20 years ago, this Chamber was almost exclusively all bigger companies," Sanchez said. "Now, many of those are still here with us, but the growth has been in small to midsize companies."
Despite hiring issues, Miami business confidence is at a three-year high: 82 percent of respondents said they expect their businesses to be healthier in one year compared to now.
"Even with Washington not being able to do much, North Korea, terrorism, etcetera — people are still optimistic about Greater Miami and its business opportunities," Argiz said.