New Hampshire has a Labor Shortage!!!
New Hampshire has a high-class problem, and that is a labor shortage.
The Granite State has the second-lowest unemployment rate in the nation at just 2.6%, which on the surface is excellent news, and we should hope for no different. However, virtually-full employment comes at a long-term price.
The demand for workers exceeding the supply of workers is an enviable position, and it is something that economies strive for continually. With such, however, businesses and other employers get frustrated, as there is not enough qualified labor to meet their needs. Firms and other institutions (colleges, the State, municipalities) must either 1) lower their employment targets and reduce output, 2) spend considerably on recruiting from outside their target market, or 3) hire employees that may not meet the skills or experience levels that they are looking for in new recruits. None of these options are attractive to business owners and managers, as all put a constraint on future sustained growth. As a consequence, if employers do not feel that there is an adequate workforce in a specific geography (read New Hampshire), then they will be hesitant to either start, relocate or expand a business in that locale. They simply will want to go where there is an abundance of workers who meet their hiring qualifications.
As mentioned in a previous article on New Hampshire's aging population, the Granite State is having difficulty attracting a significant number of workers under the age of 55. Moreover, New Hampshire is the fastest-aging state in the nation, and has the second-oldest population in the country, quickly catching up to #1, Maine.
At a University of New Hampshire event yesterday in Durham, a senior administrator for the school described the current situation as an "employment crisis", and one of State's Senators wrote to his supporters to convey that businesses' "biggest complaint has become that they cannot find enough job applicants". Moreover, we have heard from several major employers within the state that they simply cannot meet their hiring needs, and are taking extraordinary measures in which to find and recruit candidates. Even speaking with a local McDonald's manager who has a "help wanted - $2,500 tuition reimbursement" billboard, stated that she just can't find the workers she needs, and stated that "everyone is having the same problem".
So, what do we do? What does the State do? What does the private sector do? As stated previously, this is a good problem to have, but how do we address it, and/or do we need to address it? As we wrote a few weeks ago, Vermont is paying for new residents to move to their state, as they too have run out of workers. The efforts of the State's Department of Economic Affairs and the NH High Tech Council are doing a yeoman's job at attracting new businesses to the State, and organizations such as Stay Work Play are also coming up with creative solutions to younger workers leaving New Hampshire.
The New Hampshire advocacy group, 603 and Me has recently been created to be a grassroots volunteer organization, designed to improve the image and national reputation of the State, in an effort to provide a private-sector response to attracting both employers and employees to the State. The organization was featured last week in Seacoast Online, and will be in the August issue of Business NH magazine.
Please share this article with your friends and colleagues, as well as provide us your feedback on what we should do to address this predicament, if anything.