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New Hampshire Reports High Number of Online Job Postings

While the state reported more than 105,000 residents unemployed in May, online help-wanted ads for New Hampshire jobs remained near pre-pandemic levels in April and May and surpassed last year’s offerings.

by Michael Cousineau, The New Hampshire Union Leader / June 17, 2020
Shutterstock/Tero Vesalainen

(TNS) — While the state Tuesday reported more than 105,000 Granite Staters unemployed in May, online help-wanted ads for New Hampshire jobs remained near pre-pandemic levels in April and May and surpassed last year’s offerings.

But job needs shifted, triggered by the coronavirus pandemic and its economic fallout, which struck in March.

Amazon, for example, had 3,782 job postings in April and May compared with none in January and February. PillPack, which packages people’s prescription doses by day and time, had 252 job postings during April and May compared with none in January and February, according to Brian Gottlob, director of the state’s economic and labor market information bureau.

“The absolute number of job postings has changed little before and during the pandemic,” according to a document Gottlob created. “Who and what they are hiring for has.”

The biggest gain came in transportation and material-moving occupations, which nearly doubled in openings to more than 2,300 in April-May. But health care saw a dip of more than 600 positions advertised this spring compared to early in the year, according to Burning Glass Technologies and New Hampshire Employment Security.

On Tuesday, the state reported an improved employment picture for May with 24,300 more Granite Staters working than in April, though the unemployment rate was 14.5%.

“There remains a lot of pain in this economy,” said Laconia economist Russ Thibeault. “May showed nearly 100,000 fewer jobs than in the early months of the year, with continuing distress in retail, lodging and restaurants. As these businesses reopen, we should see a drop in the unemployment rate in the coming months.”

He said the economy remains bad, “help-wanted ads notwithstanding.”

The 21,900 online ads in April and May were nearly 4,000 higher than the same period last year.

“The number of people working in New Hampshire in February was an all-time high,” said Richard Lavers, deputy commissioner at Employment Security. “The fact that we continue to see the gradual reduction in people filing active weekly claims is a positive sign that when coupled with the significant reduction in new claims and the number of jobs available, demonstrates promise for our continued recovery.”

Not everybody filing for unemployment has lost a job. Some chose to stay home to tend to children or sick family members.

“There are many reasons related to the pandemic as to why someone would continue to file for unemployment benefits, so it is not just simply looking at the supply of jobs,” Lavers said.

In Manchester, Catholic Medical Center has brought back about 35% of its furloughed employees, who were idled after the hospital suspended elective surgeries and procedures to prepare for a surge of COVID-19 cases. It also has more than 200 job openings.

“At CMC, the positions we have open are generally hard-to-recruit-for positions or jobs that require very specific certifications or training,” said Lauren Collins-Cline, director of communications and public relations. “They are not positions that we have placed on furlough, and they are not ones that can be filled by furloughed employees.”

The pandemic interrupted hiring, said Shannon Herrmann, senior recruiting manager at Alexander Technology Group in Bedford, a technology staffing agency.

“There was definitely a big dip that happened when all companies went remote,” she said in an email. Companies needed to figure out how to hire, much of it remotely.

“The need to hire didn’t really go away. It was more figuring out how to,” she said. “Once companies figured that out, we started to see jobs come back and hiring start to happen again.”

She estimated that Alexander Technology Group is back to filling 75% of open positions with clients, compared to early March.

May’s job picture improved with more businesses opening or expanding as government restrictions eased for some industries.

The state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate, which attempts to remove the influences of predictable seasonal patterns to better measure month-over-month changes, came in at 14.5% in May compared with a revised 17.1% in April. The May 2019 rate was 2.5%.

Last month, Employment Security said the unadjusted rate was a better measure of the pandemic’s effects on April’s unemployment rate. May’s unadjusted rate also was 14.5% compared with 17.2% in April. The May 2019 unadjusted rate was 2.4%.

For the week ending May 30, there were 102,030 active claim filers for unemployment, an uptick from the previous week’s 100,769, according to Employment Security.

According to the monthly report, New Hampshire had 620,630 employed residents in May, a decrease of 132,220 from May 2019.

The number of unemployed residents decreased by 17,540 over the month to 105,590. May’s total was 85,990 more unemployed than in May 2019.

Nationally, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for May was 13.3%.

©2020 The New Hampshire Union Leader (Manchester, N.H.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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