The summer jobs outlook looks a bit sunnier than it has in recent years, according to folks in the tourism business.
Mike Somers, president and CEO of the New Hampshire Lodging & Restaurant Association, said there's "a ton of opportunity out there."
"I'm hearing from members that they are still desperately looking for people."
And it's not just the temporary hourly workers, usually filled by students, that many restaurants and hotels are looking for, Somers said.
"I think there's actually a need right now for folks who are prepared to take supervisory and middle-management jobs," he said. "There is demand out there for those folks who are willing to work hard and have a little experience under their belt.
"At the New Hampshire Retail Association, President and CEO Nancy Kyle said, "I have heard from my retailers that business is picking up and they are going to be hiring.
"Kyle said businesses at the coast are expecting a good summer. And she said some of the larger retailers around the state also are doing summer hiring to cover for vacationing employees.
There's still a lot of uncertainty about the economy, however, Kyle said. "We are on the mend, but I think retailers are still cautious. I think they will be hiring, but maybe not on the levels they did pre-recession."
Somers said his members are feeling optimistic that things are turning around. The bountiful snow made for a successful winter season, and so far things look promising for summer, he said.
"The one thing we have going for us is because we're such a drive-in state. Providing prices don't go haywire and providing we have good weather, folks will come."
Pam Szacik, director of employment services for N.H. Employment Security, said things are busiest at the Seacoast, where stores and attractions such as water parks are hiring summer workers.
And that's good news for students, who during the recession often found themselves pushed out of those positions by adults who had been laid off from their regular employment.
With the unemployment rate down to 4.4 percent, Szacik said, "The kids might have a better shot at getting some of those positions, just because there are so many out there right now."
However, she said, in the Nashua and Salem areas, it may be too late to look for a summer job. "Most of the hiring was completed by March and done by word of mouth rather than using our offices," she said. "A lot of the summer jobs, people have had them year after year, and if they don't want them, they usually have someone they can refer right in."
Still, she advised students to be persistent. "They need to keep knocking on doors, because a lot of jobs aren't posted," she said. "Again, it's that word of mouth; they're relying on their current workers to help fill those other positions."
Shawne K. Wickham