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Unemployment Stays Low, Giving Job Seekers More Leverage

Kandy Jaxx
Official jobs and unemployment numbers aren’t the only way to trace the recession and the recovery

New Hampshire’s unemployment rate went up slightly to 2.8% in March, up from 2.7% in February. New data from the state’s Employment Security office shows modest job losses in education, retail and finance, while construction and manufacturing were basically flat.

The unemployment rate has sat below 3% for more than a year, a clear sign of a bullish New Hampshire economy. However, some companies view the strong results as something of a double-edged sword: while overall business may be up, firms are struggling to find enough workers, and job seekers find themselves better able to bargain for higher salaries.

“Companies are having to pay to get more qualified individuals, as well as compete with other companies that are looking to hire in the space right now,” says Barry Roy with staffing firm Robert Half International, which operates offices in Manchester, Nashua and Portsmouth. “The economy we are sitting in right now is certainly a candidate’s market, for sure.”

Roy says his firm is seeing strong demand for workers in healthcare, IT, and business services careers. Job seekers with the right skills are often receiving multiple offers.

“It seems like everybody is out there in the market trying to find good talent” says Roy. “That gives candidates who are looking for new opportunities a chance to be a little bit more picky in their job search.”

The national unemployment rate for March was 4.5%, a ten-year low.