Why Is The Mass. Unemployment Rate Twice As High As N.H.’s?

At the Waterhouse Restaurant in southwestern New Hampshire, soft shell crabs were on the lunch menu and business was brisk.

Brandon Ford removes tortilla chips from a frialator for the lunchtime crowd in the very busy kitchen at the Waterhouse Restaurant in Peterborugh, NH. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

But General Manager Linda Quintanilha said she can’t fully re-open the restaurant in Peterborough because she can’t find enough staff.

“Half the patio is closed and half the dining room is closed,” Quintanilha said.

New Hampshire’s unemployment rate stood at 2.9% in June, the third straight month it was below 3%. In May, it was the lowest in the country, and many businesses across the state are desperate to find workers.

But just across the border in Massachusetts, unemployment is more than twice as high — 6.1% in May, the latest month available. Though competition for workers is also keen in some industries and locations in Massachusetts, demand is much more uneven.

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