The latest U.S. Bureau of Labor report for May 2022 shows New Hampshire’s unemployment rate was 2.1 percent, ranking fourth in the nation with the lowest unemployment rate. Yet, some industries are still struggling to staff their businesses.
Montessori Schoolhouse of Cheshire County, a preschool in Keene that has operated for 33 years, is experiencing a staffing shortage that is threatening their ability to care for their students.
School officials say they need two lead teachers, four assistant teachers, an administrative director, an office assistant and four board members. In a small school like Montessori these eight positions make a difference in the number of children they’re able to serve and the shortage has caused more families to be left on the waiting list for childcare.
“If we’re not able to retain and hire the staffing we need, we are faced with the decision to permanently close which is a devastating thought for everybody in our community,” Katie Kurowski, co-president of the board of directors, said in an email to the Sentinel Friday.
Because low pay was a common factor in people quitting their jobs, the average weekly wage is increasing. To compete, the school has raised tuition with hopes of using higher pay rates to attract employees. The 2022-2023 school year tuition increased by 6 percent.
In June 2022 the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 4.3 percent of Latinos were unemployed in the United States, a major decrease from numbers reported during the pandemic. In 2020 the unemployment rate for people of Hispanic or Latino ethnicity was 10.4 percent.
The healthcare industry is also experiencing continued staffing shortages.
In December 2021 NHPR reported that New Hampshire’s largest healthcare system, Dartmouth-Hitchcock, advertised 1,129 job openings at once, including 100 physician vacancies.
Leaders across the state have joined forces to create a plan to address this issue. Giving Care: A Strategic Plan to Expand and Support New Hampshire’s Health Care Workforce offers 107 short-term and long-term suggestions to solve the problem, including implementing wellness programs to improve employee retention. Endowment for Health and the Community Health Institute partnered to fund and lead the project.
“In this state, we address problems often in very siloed ways,” Kim Firth, Program Director at the Endowment for Health, told The New Hampshire Bulletin. “We want this to be action oriented. We don’t want this to be a plan that sits on a shelf. We actually need to work together to implement it.”
The plan’s suggestions are categorized into four sections– recruiting and retaining healthcare workers, rethinking policies that stymie workforce development, collecting and using data to drive decisions, and creating a public or private group to move the plan forward.
The organizations say that many aspects of the plan can be utilized in any industry, not just healthcare, and with education and healthcare so crucial to the success of the state, it is important to decrease the shortages now.
Cover photo: Ernie Journeys for Unsplash