New Hampshire Economic News Roundup: The Rising Gig Economy, GDP Growth, And More Energy Jobs

May 25, 2017

One leading economist says the Granite State is "getting its groove back," with GDP growth up three percent in twenty sixteen. Also, the gig economy, including freelance and contract work, gains traction here, and job prospects widen for the state's aging workforce.


GUESTS:

New Hampshire has "got its groove back."

According to Russ Thibeault, president of Applied Economic Research, New Hampshire had a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth of three percent in 2016:

GDP is really the size of the economic pie, and includes the value of all goods and services produced within the economy. And New Hampshire's growth rate was three percent in real terms (meaning after you factor out inflation), and it really made us tied with two other states, Georgia and Florida, for the fastest growth east of, get this, the Rocky Mountains. 

However, Steve Norton, the executive director of the New Hampshire Center for Public Policy Studies, says that while GDP growth looks good, job growth has not been as steady:

We're top five in terms of GDP, but we are top fifteen in the terms of job growth over that same period. So we're not growing jobs as fast as some of these other places, which I find a little bit concerning, because if you look at job growth and how we have seen increases, our sort of peak growth year to year was a few months ago. And we seem now to be slightly declining. 

The state continues to adapt to an aging workforce.

According to an article by The Union Leader, one in five of every new hires in 2015 in New Hampshire was over the age of 65. Thibeault says that around 30 percent of people ages 65-74 are still in the labor force, and another ten percent of people above the age of 74 still work. 

Jeff Feingold, editor of The New Hampshire Business Review, says that as our population ages, businesses are forced to adapt to an older group of workers, including making accommodations or performing job training.  

It's something that has been bubbling up for a long time in New Hampshire, because as we get older, and as businesses need employees, the only other way you could do it is by encouraging more immigration into the state, and better training for young people. But if [there is] a person there who maybe has the skills, may has lost a little bit of his fastball or something, but is still fully capable of working at that place, why wouldn't you hire that person?

Thibeault says that the over-65 age group is the only age group that is expected to grow in the next 25 years. 

Businesses are hiring older workers out of both necessity and convenience.

Feingold says that while older workers may need more flexibility or different accommodations than their younger counterparts, their value as employees is increasingly recognized by businesses in the state. 

I remember writing stories about ten years ago about people who couldn't find a job one day because they got laid off during the recession, and they couldn't find another job because they [were] too old. They're in their fifties. But now I think the whole mindset is changing among employers in New Hampshire, because they realize that...just because you're in your fifties (which I've passed that already), you're still capable of holding a job and being very productive. 

Thibeault noted that there was a piece in The Union Leader today about the death of a bagger at a Market Basket named Arthur St. John, who worked up until a week before his passing, at 96. 

He was still going to work so I think that [this] speaks to the fact that there can be a lot of life left.