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Share of U.S. Small Businesses Raising Pay Hits 17-Year High

Small-business owners in the U.S. are becoming more aggressive with their pay packages as the tight job market makes it difficult to attract talent.

The National Federation of Independent Business said Thursday a net 33 percent of small firms raised compensation in March, the largest share since November 2000, as hiring plans picked up.

“Small businesses are telling us that they’re optimistic, hiring and willing to raise wages to find the right employees for the businesses,” Juanita Duggan, president and chief executive of the NFIB, said in a release.

A net 20 percent, up 2 percentage points from a month earlier, said they planned to add to payrolls, according to the group’s survey. While the number of firms reporting job openings climbed to 53 percent in March from 52 percent a month earlier, 47 percent indicated that they had few or no qualified workers to fill those positions. That helps explain why businesses are making more of an effort to boost pay.

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