A sampling of Vineyard business leaders shows more than the usual blend of hope and optimism for a profitable summer, as the Island gears up for Memorial Day and the summer season.

As always, business owners are faced with difficulty finding seasonal workers, which they attribute to a critical shortage of housing. The falling unemployment rate and the number of help wanted signs in store windows indicates that issue is as acute as ever this year.

Sprucing up before Memorial Day weekend. — Mark Lovewell

From his office in Vineyard Haven, Ray LaPorte looks out on the intersection of State Road and Main street. Mr. LaPorte is an investment advisor for the Martha’s Vineyard Savings Bank’s wealth management division. For the veteran financial advisor, that view is a leading economic indicator for the summer season.

“I’ve seen more traffic coming off freight boats, heading to boats, people on the street, than I remember in many years,” Mr. LaPorte said. “It might be a rebound from a long, tortuous winter.”

While he said there is often a disconnect between Main street and Wall street, Mr. LaPorte sees some financial data that leads him to believe more money will be flowing into the Island economy this summer.

“We had a great IRA (Individual Retirement Account) season,” he said. “For many years, from 2008 until a few years ago, few people had enough cash flow to fund IRAs, but this year we saw a noticeable improvement. That was a really good indicator to me that people have money in their pockets.”

Judy Federowicz, owner of Coldwell Banker Landmarks Real Estate, said the summer vacation rental market, and the home sales market, are both stronger this year than last year.

“People did book early,” Mrs. Federowicz said. “Many really did reserve their rental when they left in August and September last year. Generally, January and February are your very heavy booking months. Most of August is booked. People are coming for July.”

She said the scarcity of vacation rentals has driven prices up.

“We have fewer leases this year, but we exceeded total rental volume in terms of dollars, we exceeded that in April,” Mrs. Federowicz said. “People are still staying for a week or two, but they’re paying more money.”

She also said the average and median price of home sales is up over last year.

“It’s a creep, not a jump. We came late to the party in terms of the recovery, and I think this is our turnaround year,” she said.

Ready to launch a new season. — Mark Lovewell

When home sales and rentals are up, it is good news for Crane Appliance, where the shiny new barbecue grills lined up in front of the State Road store entice buyers at this time of year.

Sales associate Bill Smalley said most outdoor cooking equipment sales are about on par with last year, though he has seen a significant increase in the top range of his line.

“We put 25 grills out this morning, and four of them are gone,” Mr. Smalley said. “The increase I have seen is the luxury high end grills. That’s where we’re seeing the most growth, high end grills for outdoor kitchens. Today we loaded a 54-inch grill with a contractor. I’m getting a new grill next week, that’s a $20,000 grill. The Island is definitely on an uptick on both home ownership, and the rental season. Anytime that occurs, that means more business for everybody.”

Annie Cooke-Ennis, owner of Backwater Trading Company and president of the Edgartown Board of Trade, said Edgartown businesses are reporting it is increasingly difficult to find workers.

“We’re hearing a lot of people are having trouble,” Ms. Cooke-Ennis said. “I’ve had a couple of employees fall through because their housing fell through. That’s the first time that’s ever happened to me.”

She said her reading of hotel room advance bookings and Steamship Authority reservations indicates a good summer.

“The Harborside Inn was reporting some of its earliest bookings, so people are not only reserving space, but reserving it early,” she said. “I think people are cautiously optimistic. Last year flattened out a lot. We had a strong spring, then business tapered off.”

On Circuit avenue in Oak Bluffs, all the storefronts are occupied for the first time in several years, and retailers are encouraged, according to Dennis daRosa, president of the Oak Bluffs Association.

“We’re very excited about the Strand Theatre opening up [scheduled for June 19], and the bowling alley, The Barn, opening,” said Mr. daRosa, who is also a board member of the Martha’s Vineyard Chamber of Commerce. “If not an uptick, at least it’s holding our own. The weather will be a harbinger to having something somebody could call growth. Since the recession, most people are just holding their own.”

Mr. daRosa said members of his association say they are seeing more than the usual shortage of workers.

“You can just walk down the street, see the help wanted signs,” Mr. daRosa said. “You would think by Memorial Day, all the college kids would have come, and the local high school kids who want summer jobs would already have them.”

While it is difficult to gauge unemployment in a seasonal economy, especially one where many workers are independent contractors who don’t get counted in official unemployment indicators when they are out of work, unemployment figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show a substantial decrease in the number of people unemployed this spring.

The rate of unemployment for Dukes County was down two full percentage points in March of this year, compared with the rate for March of 2014, from 12.7 per cent to 10.7 per cent. Barnstable and Nantucket counties also saw decreases in the unemployment rate, though not as substantial as the Vineyard.

Mr. daRosa echoed the hope of many Island businesses, for what may be the most important economic indicator of all.