In Depth Day 3: Who Are New Hampshire's Untapped Workers?
Our In-Depth series on New Hampshire's workforce shortage continues with: untapped workers. We ask: what groups of potential employees are being overlooked? These might include recent immigrants, people with criminal records, people with disabilities, and older workers.
- Donna Brown, Attorney with the Manchester firm Wadleigh, Starr & Peters. A former public defender, she does pro bono work at criminal record annulment clinics, helping those who qualify to request removal of criminal records. She is also on the board of NAMI – NH.
- Kristine Dudley, Workforce Development Director at Manchester Community College.
- Todd Fahey, N.H. State Director of AARP - New Hampshire.
- Andrew Houtenville, Associate professor of economics and research director at the Institute on Disability at UNH.
Read a Concord Monitor story on how more Granite Staters are working past 65. At a job fair last fall, experienced workers showed up by the hundreds. Nationally and in New Hampshire, groups of workers ages 65 through 75 are predicted to grow faster than any other age segment through 2024, according the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and retirement age is now closer to 70.
People with criminal records:
Many in this group say they face barriers when it comes to finding employment. Current legislation, SB 100, which passed the Senate and is now in the House, includes this provision: No employer or employer's agent shall conduct a criminal record check of an applicant prior to the initial interview. Some who qualify can have their records annulled. According to the ACLU of New Hampshire's Lost Labor Report, tens of thousands of these potential workers are often on the sidelines, and the opioid crisis has contributed to the problem.
According to the National Skills Coalition: Immigrants account for 1 in 6 American workers. According to the Endowment for Health, New Hampshire ranks among the top ten states in the U.S. for the percent of foreign?born workers who have a bachelor’s degree or better. Immigrant? owned companies generate more than $250 million of the state’s annual business income.
Workers with disabilities:
More employers have been hiring workers with disabilities, as the Concord Monitor reported: The roughly 40-point employment gap between people with disabilities and without constricted, somewhat, likely thanks to a rebounding economy. But in New Hampshire, advocates say, far more needs to be done. This NHBR columnist urges companies to tap these often overlooked members of the workforce. According to the Labor of Bureau Statistics, this group has about twice the unemployment rate of those without disabilities.