These are plentiful times for many small businesses. After all, research reveals that small businesses now account for the majority of sales in the United States. And nearly 40% of these businesses experienced growth last year and say their revenues are trending upward. In 2016, only 34% of small businesses could say that, and the number was only 28% back in 2015. With things clicking the way they are, it’s no wonder that the Small Business Optimism Index from the National Federation of Independent Business contains large doses of the aforementioned optimism. In fact, the survey reached an all-time “optimism” high in April of this year, which is impressive because the NFIB has been conducting this research since the Nixon administration. At the same time, the labor market has continued to tighten. To put it into perspective, 36% of companies in the United States are hiring. If that number sounds high to you, it’s because it is tied for the highest since 1973. More than 20% of small businesses say that finding qualified workers has become their biggest headache, which is also near the all-time high. “The availability of qualified workers is impeding the growth in employment,” the NFIB said in their latest jobs report. “Absent significant increases in the size of the labor force through a higher participation rate, owners will increasingly be pirating workers from other firms rather than new entrants in the labor force.” All told, the United States created 213,000 new jobs in June. While this number was exceptionally high, even topping the forecast of economists, it also came with an added twist as the Labor Department reported that unemployment had risen to 4%. This increase in unemployment is partly due to the fact that more people enter the labor force when jobs are more plentiful. Also, the end of the school year means that hordes of teenagers and recent grads are currently seeking work. The bottom line is that despite any recent fluctuations, many small businesses are positioned for growth and desperately need to hire additional staff. And even businesses that are in a flat period of growth may still be struggling simply to retain staff. Indeed, employees can become increasingly mobile in a tight labor market. And the issue is exacerbated by the fact that baby boomers are retiring in large numbers. In order to thrive amidst these challenges, small businesses will need to make hiring and retention a top priority.