A declining unemployment rate — now at 6.1 percent — would seem to mean that employers are packing their payrolls with workers. But many say they are having a harder time filling open positions this year than last year, according to a survey by franchise staffing firm Express Employment Professionals. It reports that 83 percent of the company's 115 franchises surveyed said it was "somewhat difficult" or "very difficult" to fill a job opening this year. That's up from 78 percent in 2013. The main reason? Fifty-two percent cited a lack of available candidates. Businesses continue to blame a skills gap between job seekers and open positions. "This was surprising to me as I thought the number of companies having difficulties would be lower this year," said Bob Funk, CEO of Express. Another reason, though, might be the often low pay that's offered, said Rebecca Smith, deputy director of the National Employment Law Project, an advocacy group for workers. "Except for those at the top, wages have consistently declined over the past few years," she said.
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First published July 10 2014, 3:48 PM