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N.H.'s Summer Is Here In Full Force. The Summer Workers? Not So Much

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Jane Vaughan / NHPR
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Some New Hampshire businesses are still struggling to find enough workers as the July 4th weekend approaches and the summer tourist season kicks into high gear. It's yet another indication of the state's workforce shortage and the challenges facing the local economy as it tries to shake loose from the pandemic.

"Staffing has been a challenge," said Robert Manley, co-founder of Hermit Woods Winery and Deli in Meredith. "I have been almost continuously hiring now for three months in order to ensure that we have enough staff to cover the summer." 

Luckily, Hermit Woods is currently only short one worker, but that role has proved difficult to fill. 

"We lost our chef out of the blue about a month ago," Manley said. "I have advertised -- I have spent hundreds of dollars and advertised in many places to replace that chef, and I have had zero applicants."

Just a few miles up the shore of Lake Winnipesaukee,  the Gagliardi family is facing a similar problem. 

"These past few months, we've been posting ads in the newspaper, online, and we haven't really gotten any hits," said Nick Gagliardi, who co-owns Gusto Italian Cafe in Center Harbor with his wife Elena. 

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Credit Jane Vaughan / NHPR
The Lakeview Tavern in Meredith has had to temporarily reduce its hours due to staffing shortages.

The Gagliardis are trying to open up an Italian market across the street from their cafe, but have had to put those plans on hold since they can't find enough workers. So far, they've been getting by with the staff they have available but could really use the extra help to keep the ovens full. 

"Having a baker extra will help us to just do the bread during the day instead of having Nicolas doing it just in the morning," Elena Gagliardi said. 

And with the busy Independence Day weekend approaching, Gusto will need all hands on deck to make it through. The cafe has had to close its doors early recently because they don't have enough workers to run the back of the business. 

Manley reports a similar problem at Hermit Woods. He closed the deli last Friday because the two people who are qualified to run it were off for the day.

"That's hard on a business," he said. "People, especially our local customers, come to know us as a place to get a sandwich on an afternoon, and they walk in on a Friday afternoon in the summer, and they can't get a sandwich because we don't have a chef."

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Credit Jane Vaughan / NHPR
George's Cafe in Meredith now has to close at 2 p.m. on Wednesdays due to a lack of staff.

Other local businesses are struggling as well. The Lakeview Tavern in Meredith has had to shorten its hours due to lack of staffing. And George's Cafe in Meredith now has to close at 2 p.m. on Wednesdays because it does not have adequate workers. 

New Hampshire currently has the lowest unemployment rate in the nation, at 2.5 percent.