WOLFEBORO — In a year when people get hired and sometimes don’t show up on their first day, Sheila Chittum looked to hire at least three part-time workers at the local Windrifter Resort.
“It’s definitely more difficult than in years past,” the resort manager said while hosting a table at a job fair at the town hall recently. “We’re all vying for the same employment pool.”
The Wolfeboro event drew 35 job seekers for 243 total job openings — the lowest attendance of 12 state-organized job fairs so far this year.
“Many employers said the quality of the candidates was better” at this fair, said Kate LaPierre, job and resource fair coordinator at New Hampshire Employment Security. The event’s 22 employers amounted to about half the number who show up at other job fairs, she said.
According to figures released Tuesday, the state saw 8,380 more residents employed in August compared to a year earlier.
“The labor force is growing because the population is growing and the labor force participation rate is also increasing, meaning that a larger share of (the) civilian population (is) employed or is seeking employment,” said Annette Nielsen, an economist with the state’s Economic and Labor Market Information Bureau.
“This is a sign of a healthy job market attracting more workers,” she said.
The state’s unemployment rate for August registered at 2.5% — the exact same figure for August 2018. That’s because there were 8,930 more people in the labor force — people either employed or unemployed but looking for work — during that span.
“Had the labor force not grown, employers would have had even a more difficult job finding labor,” Laconia economist Russ Thibeault said Tuesday.
Tuesday’s release of unemployment numbers represented the eighth straight month of month-over-month gains in the number of employed residents and in the number of people in the labor force.
Thibeault said the labor force grew partly because more people moved into the state than moved out — a migratory pattern that New Hampshire has struggled with some years.
“Anything that makes labor more available right now is probably good for the state’s economy,” Thibeault said.
In this Lakes Region community, Perry Shaw knows all about a labor shortage. He is district manager at Hunter’s Shop ‘n Save on South Main Street in Wolfeboro. The store had a hiring sign posted behind the pumpkins greeting customers at the front entrance.
“You do hire people and you train them and they leave,” said Shaw, who’s looking to hire 10 to 12 people.
He’s advertised via newspaper and online.
“Everybody’s looking for help,” he said.
Chittum said she can recall five newly hired workers who never showed on their first day.
“They could have found something else,” she said.