CONCORD — Dean Beliveau arranged for seven people to interview for a part-time food position at his Live Juice restaurant downtown.
The results during that recent two-week stretch:
Four people didn’t show up.
Two were unhirable.
And the one person he hired?
“She worked three days and quit,” said Beliveau, the restaurant’s general manager and vice president of operations.
“I’ve been in the business 40 years, and this is probably one of the worst times finding people,” Beliveau said.
In one of the nation’s lowest unemployment states, employers are struggling to fill positions in industries from food service to factory work.
The South Main Street eatery is a microcosm of those struggles.
When a reporter spotted a hiring sign posted in the restaurant’s window and dropped by unannounced recently, Beliveau was interviewing a job candidate — who had also just noticed the sign — in the dining area.
“I walked in to eat lunch and saw a sign and figured (the open position) would work better with my schedule,” Nickelle Laviolette said moments after she was hired on the spot.
The Hillsborough resident drove a bus and worked evenings at Walmart. Working mid-days at Live Juice means she can quit her Walmart job that sometimes kept her there until 11 p.m.
“I never had put a sign in my window” looking for help until now, Beliveau said. “We’re all looking for help.”
Beliveau said he spends about an hour with job applicants, doing the majority of the talking.
“I’m kind of selling them on the job,” he said.
Live Juice isn’t alone with unfilled job openings.
“Food services & drinking places” offered the third-highest number of job openings across the state, trailing educational services and hospitals, during July and August, according to Burning Glass Technologies and New Hampshire Employment Security.
There were 16,597 total online job openings in New Hampshire between July 1 and Aug. 31. There were 728 food-related openings, but nearly a third of all openings “did not list or the industry could not be identified,” according to Brian Gottlob, director of the state’s economic and labor market information bureau.
To retain and attract workers, some Burger King restaurants in New Hampshire are offering workers the option of collecting their pay daily rather than waiting for traditional paydays.
For Beliveau, he hears from workers who frequently ask for a raise.
“A lot of people will switch a job for 50 cents; they’re so money motivated,” he said.
“We’re just dealing with a different mindset among workers; work isn’t necessarily a priority in their life,” he said.
“All of my fall help I hired for fall aren’t even here,” Beliveau said. “It makes life stressful because you’re hoping you have enough help.”
The restaurant has boosted its pay a couple dollars an hour in the past year.
“We had to raise food prices for wages,” Beliveau said “It’s not a bottomless pot of money.”