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Business Extra: Strong economy affects hiring

  • Michelle Humphrey, a RN, opens a medicine trollScott Farrar at Peterborough on Friday, Jan. 13, 2017. Humphrey, who is also a resident care director, said it is difficult to find skilled workers in the area. (Abby Kessler / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Abby Kessler—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript...

  • Janice Kelso, a LPN, and Michelle Humphrey, a RN, work at the newly opened Scott Farrar at Peterborough on Friday, Jan. 13, 2017. Humphrey, who is also a resident care director, said it is difficult to find skilled workers in the area. Staff photo by Abby Kessler

  • Janice Kelso, a LPN, works at the newly opened Scott Farrar at Peterborough on Friday, Jan. 13, 2017. (Abby Kessler / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Abby Kessler—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript...



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Tuesday, January 17, 2017 8:44AM

If you’re looking for a job, now may be good time to brush up your resume and send it off.

The state’s unemployment rate in November dipped to 2.7 percent, a low it hasn’t seen since the beginning of 2001. It’s a signal of a strong economy and one that is projected to continue as the calendar flips to a new year.

“Following the recession you would see upward of 800 people looking for jobs at one fair,” said Richard Lavers, deputy commissioner with NH Employment Security. “Then it shrunk to about 200 job seekers at the same fair. And now you’re seeing more employers than job seekers.”

Lavers said businesses across a huge swath of industries are now facing the challenge of hiring employees, citing huge labor opportunities in healthcare, manufacturing and IT sectors.

Pete Throop, who is the director of Peterborough’s Office of Community and Development, said unemployment in the Monadnock Region is “very, very low.” Right now, he said, the town isn’t necessarily worried about putting people to work, but boosting the area’s workforce.

“Our challenge is how do we grow our workforce?” Throop said, adding that it is important to have a diverse group of people ready to work in order to attract new businesses to the area.

He said there are opportunities, most notably from Nashua Community College, which could provide skilled labor to the workforce.

“Because of low unemployment, the marketplace is tightening up and that translates to a lack of more qualified candidates and makes it more difficult to fill positions,” said John Sansone, human resources director at the Monadnock Community Hospital.

He said recently the hospital has been relying more heavily on recruiting agencies that are able to pull talent from wider areas. Currently, he said, the hospital has about 30 or 40 openings, a larger number than in years past.

Sansone said because it’s hard to hire on new employees, some are negotiating their salaries more aggressively, which has bumped up pay structures in order to remain competitive with other hospitals across the state.

Brooke Charron, human resources manager with New Hampshire Ball Bearings, agreed.

“While it’s great that unemployment is low, it’s been a huge challenge for us,” Charron said. “It’s like nothing we have ever seen before.”

She said while many positions require higher-education degrees, the company also offer plenty of entry-level jobs with minimum requirements that include high school diplomas and the ability to lift 40 pounds. The company currently has about 38 entry-level positions that it is looking to fill, she said.

To deal with the hiring challenges, the company has had to cast a much wider hiring net than it has in the past. She said the company is now pulling from areas like Manchester, Nashua, and even Massachusetts. She recently met with someone who flew in from Florida for an interview. But convincing people to relocate can be hard, she said, because housing options are limited and, often times, expensive.

Charron said partnerships with local high schools have helped and do present great opportunities in the future, but even still, she said they are looking to hire on more people ready to work. At the end of the conversation with the Ledger-Transcript, Charron encouraged any readers interested in a job, to visit the company’s website and apply.

“These are tough, challenging problems in terms of thinking about how we are going to build and strengthen our local economy,” Throop said about the workforce shortage in the area. “These things really need to be thought through and discussed.”