Bottom Line: Looking for work? Jobs are out there if you’re willing to roll up your sleeves

  • John Lippman. Copyright (c) Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to

Valley News Business Writer
Published: 5/16/2020 9:55:06 PM
Modified: 5/18/2020 1:23:38 PM

Each week the unemployment statistics grow more grim: More than 17% of the workforce in New Hampshire and Vermont is currently out of work, according to the latest official count, although in reality experts say the numbers are probably much higher.

But even in a pandemic and the worst economic calamity to hit the U.S. since the Great Depression, there are still jobs that need to be filled and employers that are hiring. Not surprisingly, many of them are low-paying, entry-level positions but the fact that any employer is hiring at this time means a ray of hope for job seekers.

Last week Hannaford Supermarkets, citing “increased demand related to the global health pandemic,” said it would hire 2,000 more workers — on the top of the 2,200 it has already added since March — to work at its stores in New England and New York state. The need is driven not only by the greater volume of business at the stores but also due to the introduction of new offerings such as the Hannaford To Go curbside pickup service.

The need for workers is especially acute along the Route 12A and North Main Street commercial strip in West Lebanon, where Price Chopper, FedEx, PetSmart, BJ’s Wholesale Club, Home Depot and Advance Auto Parts are looking to fill cashier, stocking, sales floor and delivery positions. Many of the fast-food restaurants, which always have difficulty hiring workers, also have shift openings as people eschew “front-line” jobs out of concern for health risks.

“We’ve hired five people in the last week and we have 10 openings right now,” said John Keefe, human resource manager at Chippers in Woodstock, the tree care and landscaping company that also has locations in Enfield and New London. Chippers needs to hire a vegetation technician, climbing arborist and landscape foreman, among other positions, as the landscaping season gets underway.

Although Chippers initially projected it would be hiring 30 people at the beginning, Keefe said the number was trimmed in half in expectation of lower demand as households cut spending. But “people are sitting at home and looking at their landscapes and seeing there is still work that needs to be done,” Keefe said.

As of Thursday, there were a total of 325 advertisements for jobs within a 25-mile radius of West Lebanon that had been posted since May 1 on the job recruitment site, including nine at the U.S. Postal Service, eight at AutoZone, seven at Hannaford, seven at SAS Retail Services and five each at the Hanover Co-op and Chili’s.

Aaron Kulo, the general manager of Chili’s, said he is getting ready to staff back up to reopen and will need front-of-the-house workers such as servers and people to take to-go orders, which he expects to become a bigger part of the restaurant’s ongoing business.

“Hiring in the restaurant industry is the hardest thing, especially along 12A,” Kulo said, noting that some furloughed restaurant industry workers are getting a better deal through unemployment benefits, especially with an extra $600 a week from the federal government through July.

“I have workers that want to come back but they are enjoying unemployment,” he said. “I might have to hire an entire brand new crew.”

The work may be hard and dirty, but if someone is willing to do it then there is a paycheck waiting.

TPI Staffing, a New Hampshire and Vermont staffing agency, currently is recruiting for 37 positions in Claremont and 22 positions in Lebanon, including warehouse workers, machinists, sanitation workers, carpenters, meat cutters and CDL drivers.

Amanda Brosseau, director of recruitment quality for TPI, said employers are still contacting the agency in need of workers “for all shifts and this remains true during this time.”

“We have a group of clients that have raised their hourly rates and increased overtime opportunities as an incentive to continue working and to meet their customer needs,” Brosseau said. “If you are reliable, we will be able to successfully assist you in your job search.”

Tractor Supplysoil turned over

The Tractor Supply property on Miracle Mile in Lebanon has been sold. Massachusetts-based commercial property owner The Richmond Co. sold the 3.9-acre lot, where Tractor Supply leases its store, to an affiliate of Farmington Hills, Mich., real estate investment trust Agree Realty Corp. for $5.5 million, according to real estate records filed earlier this month with the City of Lebanon. The Richmond Co. also owns a big chunk of Miracle Mile Plaza.

Contact John Lippman at


PetSmart is one of the stores along Route 12A in West Lebanon that is looking to hire workers. The store was misidentified in an earlier version of this column.

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