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Cash dangled in effort to recruit and retain more state workers in N.H.

Hiring sign
Dan Tuohy / NHPR

With New Hampshire state government agencies struggling to attract enough employees amid a sustained workforce shortage, officials are considering using financial incentives.

The plan announced this week by Gov. Chris Sununu calls for awarding current state employees with up to $500 if they successfully refer a new full-time hire who maintains employment for at least three months. The newly hired employee would also receive a $500 bonus.

A second initiative would provide retention bonuses of up to $2,000 for current state employees working in the state prison system, health care institutions or other government treatment facilities who remain employed through mid-November.

“Public service is amazingly rewarding, but it is not immune from the workforce shortages that exist in virtually every sector of our economy,” Sununu said in a statement.

According to the New Hampshire Department of Administrative Services, the current state employee vacancy rate is nearly 19%, well above the historical average of around 11%.

One of the state’s public job boards displays 471 vacancies, including for child social workers, chefs at the state hospital, road maintenance workers and attorneys within state agencies. The New Hampshire Liquor Commission has also struggled throughout the pandemic to hire enough employees.

The incentive plan still requires approval from the Legislature’s Joint Fiscal Committee, which will consider the proposal at its June 17 meeting.

Todd started as a news correspondent with NHPR in 2009. He spent nearly a decade in the non-profit world, working with international development agencies and anti-poverty groups. He holds a master’s degree in public administration from Columbia University.
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