A record share of U.S. small-business owners reported unfilled positions in March, and firms are starting to boost wages to attract talent, a report by the National Federation of Independent Business showed Thursday.

Some 42% of firms had job openings last month, and 56% of owners reported adding workers or trying to hire in March. Nearly a quarter of those surveyed are planning to create jobs in the next three months, the second-highest reading since 2018.

The data, out a day before the government’s monthly employment report, underscore how a loosening of business restrictions and a pickup in economic activity are encouraging firms to hire.

Even so, an overwhelming number of small businesses are having trouble finding qualified applicants to fill open positions. Over 90% of owners looking to hire reported few or no “qualified” applicants for the jobs they were trying to fill last month.

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