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2024 Small Business Outlook Report

Skilled Trade Industry Faces Talent Crunch as Business Owners Fear Younger Generation's Disinterest

Pie Insurance’s 2024 Small Business Outlook Report reveals findings of both resilience and talent challenges among small business owners 

DENVER, CO - November 29, 2023 – Pie Insurance (“Pie”), an insurtech company specializing in commercial insurance for small businesses, today unveiled its 2024 Small Business Outlook Report, revealing insights into the unique challenges and triumphs of small business and skilled trades business owners across the United States.

Pie’s report found that while 59 percent of small business owners are most worried about the economic environment heading into 2024, one in ten indicated they’re most worried about employee retention and recruitment. 

60 percent of all small business owners said they are very or somewhat concerned about a talent shortage in their industry due to an aging workforce. This is amplified by the future impacts of an aging workforce, and lack of interest from younger generations to replace them. 

When looking at skilled trades specifically, Pie’s report revealed an even more urgent concern, with 85 percent reporting challenges with talent attraction and retention, and 67 percent raising concerns over talent shortage in their industry. These fears are heightened further with 43 percent of skilled trade business owners reporting limited interest from younger generations as a top concern. 

“The report reveals a pressing concern around limited interest from younger generations in joining skilled trades,” said Dax Craig, president and co-founder of Pie. “The fact that so many skilled trade small business owners share this struggle is a call to action for us all. Skilled trades such as your local plumbers, construction owners, and landscapers are critical to our local and national economies and we must collectively work to showcase the opportunities and benefits of skilled trades to attract fresh talent."

Key findings from Pie’s 2024 Small Business Outlook report include:

As small businesses continue to grow, so does their emphasis on workplace safety. 

  • The report uncovered a growing emphasis on workplace safety among small businesses, with 25 percent feeling insecure about their understanding of workers’ compensation coverage and regulations. 
  • While the majority (83 percent) of business owners report employee understanding of OSHA workplace safety rules, 21 percent wish they had emphasized workplace safety more during their early years, indicating the importance of building a strong foundation in workplace safety practices.
  • Smaller and newer businesses still have work to do in enhancing workplace safety knowledge, with decreasing confidence levels (79 percent) compared to larger businesses (88 percent).

American small business owners are backed by a strong workforce and a positive outlook, despite economic fears. 

  • The majority of American small business owners are concerned over economic challenges heading into 2024. Notably, 59 percent expressed apprehension about the economic environment, with skilled trade business owners being the most concerned at 66 percent.
  • While 2022 may have seen the "Great Resignation," small businesses have rebounded, with 78 percent reporting adequate staffing. As skilled trade businesses may be facing talent challenges, 18 percent are planning to invest in hiring. 
  • Despite challenges, 89 percent of all business owners find joy in their work all or most of the time, rising to 91 percent for skilled trade business owners.
  • Age plays a factor: 55 percent of business owners ages 18-34 said their small business brought them joy all the time, while only 24 percent of business owners over the age of 65 shared the same sentiment. 

America’s skilled trade workers are concerned about their workforce reaching retirement age. 

  • Skilled trade business owners are deeply concerned about the aging workforce, with 67 percent foreseeing a talent shortage due to retirement and 43 percent worrying about limited interest from younger generations to join the industry.
  • A broader concern about talent shortage is seen across small businesses (60 percent), with 85 percent of skilled trades facing challenges in talent attraction and retention, leading to 21 percent of them being understaffed. 
  • Furthermore, 23 percent of small business owners, and 36 percent of those over the age of 65, do not have a succession plan in place. For those that do, 50 percent are planning for a family member to take over the business. 

Pie’s 2024 Small Business Outlook Report paints a complex yet optimistic picture of the small business landscape in the U.S. Despite the challenges posed by economic uncertainties, workplace safety education needs and an aging workforce, small business owners continue to demonstrate unwavering resilience, determination, and passion for their work.

For all survey results and methodology, please download the full report.

About Pie Insurance:

Pie Insurance is leveraging technology to transform how small businesses buy and experience commercial insurance, with the goal of making it affordable and as easy as pie. Pie’s intense focus on granular, sophisticated pricing, and data-driven customer segmentation enables Pie to match price with risk accurately across a broad spectrum of small business types, which allows Pie to offer more affordable insurance to small business owners. Since 2017, Pie has received over $615M in funding and partnered with over 4,000 agencies nationwide.