New Hampshire Economy

The Past

Historically New Hampshire, like much of New England, depended heavily on paper and grain mills to support its economy.  With the decline of mill work throughout the 20th century, the state came to lean on traditional manufacturing as an economic driver.  And although manufacturing is still an important part of New Hampshire’s economy, advances in technology and the decline of traditional fabrication work all over the country means factories employ far fewer people than in the past.  Toward the end of the 20th century, Massachusetts became a center for high-tech sectors. And in turn, New Hampshire has been able to piggy-back off its neighbor’s success, moving its economy toward electronic component manufacturing and other high-tech industries.

Despite these historic challenges, compared to the rest of the country overall, New Hampshire’s economy is still considered robust.

But talking about New Hampshire’s economy as a whole is tricky business.  That’s in part because the state’s culturally–and often economically–distinguished by its regions.  So while tourism is central to the Lakes Region economy, it’s less prominent in the Merrimack Valley.  And although high-tech work is integral to the Seacoast and Upper Valley economies, it’s much less a factor in the North Country.  But keeping regional differences in mind, some overarching statewide trends do emerge.

The Present

At this point, a few industries act as main drivers for the state’s economy:

  • Smart Manufacturing/High Technology (SMHT): SMHT is the largest and most important sector of the state’s economy.  New Hampshire’s SMHT sector is mainly known for using high-tech equipment to produce electronic components. 
  • Tourism: New Hampshire has traditionally depended on its natural resources and recreational opportunities to draw in out-of-state visitors throughout the year.  The Seacoast, Lakes Region, and White Mountains are the primary tourism hotspots. 
  • Health Care Fields: The Seacoast is a major hub for biomedical research in New Hampshire.  And thanks to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, the Upper Valley has become another center for biotech and other medical research.  The state also hosts ten major hospitals, in addition to smaller facilities, that employ a number of health care workers.

The Future

Looking to the future, economists say a number of issues could affect the state’s economy, including:

  • Demographic Change: One-in-three residents is a Baby Boomer.  As they retire, they’ll move into Medicare and Medicaid, which could place a further financial strain on medical facilities that currently count on higher revenue from private insurers.
  • Health Care Costs: This issue is closely tied to demographic change.  New Hampshire is second in the nation for the portion of private sector employees with health insurance.  But as these workers retire, they’ll move into entitlement programs, which could force providers to shift the cost of care to private insurance programs–and, by extension, to businesses.
  • Education Funding: New Hampshire operates one of the lowest-funded–and most expensive–state university systems in the country.  Many young residents find it cheaper to simply study out-of-state.  And many of the state’s young people also choose to live elsewhere.  The decline of a homegrown, educated workforce could hurt New Hampshire’s tax base and overall economy.
  • Energy Costs: The state has some of the highest per-unit energy costs in the country.  This overhead cost can be a barrier for manufacturers and other businesses that use lots of power setting up or expanding in New Hampshire.
NHPR Staff

With re-authorization of the Export-Import Bank stalled in Congress, several New Hampshire companies say they are feeling the impact.  New Hampshire’s two US Senators Kelly Ayotte and Jeanne Shaheen as well as 2nd District Congresswoman Ann McLane Kuster support re-authorization, while 1st District Congressman Frank Guinta has yet to take a position.

Justin Shearer / Flick/Creative Commons

New data shows New Hampshire’s housing market remained busy throughout the summer. 

The latest RE/MAX INTEGRA New England Housing Report shows the number of units sold in August 2015 was up 11 percent compared to the same period a year ago. 

Median home prices rose 2.3 percent. 

Night Owl City via Flickr CC /

As one of only six black pre-med students at Duke, Damon Tweedy was mistaken for a janitor…just one of many humiliations from the predominantly white field. Today, we’ll talk to Dr. Tweedy about the dearth of black doctors and what that means for people of color. Then, the trail of writers that have migrated from New York to New England to launch their careers have left a well-worn path. We’ll talk to two authors about the appeal of leaving the big apple for the natural beauty and quirky ways of New England.

Cities and Counties Take Action on Minimum Wage

Sep 8, 2015
Pyogenes Gruffer / Flickr/CC

Recently, cities and counties have taken the lead on mandating much higher pay for traditional low-wage jobs, instead of waiting for the states or the federal government.  Supporters say these increases are long overdue and only fair, but others warn of unintended consequences, including job losses and cutbacks in hours.


Foreclosure sign
Jeff Turner via Flickr/CC 2.0 -

In June, the New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority reported 181 foreclosures, the highest monthly total of 2015. Analysts thought it would be a one-time blip, but new figures from the NHHFA show July’s number was even higher – 188 foreclosures.

New Hampshire’s U.S. Senators are holding a field hearing today on the state’s small business workforce.

Jeanne Shaheen and Kelly Ayotte will host a roundtable discussion with a group of business and educational leaders this morning at Manchester Community College.

The state has awarded three companies job training grants aimed at helping 56 workers obtain new skills.

Sig Sauer Inc. of Newington will use a grant of nearly $70,000 to train 24 employees in production technology.

Axenics Inc. of Nashua and C&M Machine Products of Hudson are using grants of more than $3,000 each for worker training.

The latest round of state job training grants totals over $76 thousand dollars, with companies contributing the same amount in matching funds

File photos

It's late August, and that means right now, it's the sweet spot for locally grown food. This brief time allows Granite Staters to harvest what's been growing all summer, and we also get to look forward to the fall picking season. Apples, pumpkins, and more.

Joining me now to talk about the state of New Hampshire's agriculture is George Hamilton, with the UNH Cooperative Extension.

Via Flickr CC

Gas prices may continue to fall in New Hampshire for much of the rest of 2015.

The latest survey of gas prices from Sunday showed a median price of $2.53 per gallon. That’s 6 cents per gallon cheaper than prices of a week ago, and 17 cents per gallon below those of a month ago.

<a href=””>401k</a> via Flickr

  Several hundred New Hampshire residents are receiving refunds from tax preparer H&R Block over what the state calls erroneous charges.

The Attorney General’s office found a case in which H&R Block had charged a consumer to prepare a business and profits tax return that was neither needed nor filed. 


One of the state's first four medical marijuana dispensaries is proposed for a business park in western New Hampshire.

The Valley News reports Temescal Wellness, a Manchester-based organization that the state selected to sell medical marijuana, said it plans to locate one of its dispensaries in the Hanover Road Professional Center in Lebanon.

Organization President Ted Rebholz said the site was chosen to make it convenient for as many patients as possible. It is located near Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center and interstates 89 and 91.

Jon Greenberg, NHPR

Planet Fitness has gone public. The company's long-expected Initial Public Offering began Thursday, trading on the New York Stock Exchange with a starting price of $16 a share. 

The company is looking to grow, and quickly - right now Planet Fitness has just over 1,000 locations, but it says it sees the potential for more than 4,000 in the future. But while the company’s profits have grown along with its footprint, so has its debt, to the tune of $500 million.

Foreclosure sign
Jeff Turner via Flickr/CC 2.0 -

Foreclosure deeds rose in June in New Hampshire, but analysts say that was likely a one-time rise rather than the beginning of a trend.

photologue_np via flickr Creative Commons


The New Hampshire Employment Security Agency is hosting a job fair in North Haverhill on Thursday.

It's going to be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the North Haverhill Town Office.

New Hampshire's unemployment rate held steady in June at 3.8 percent. That's down from 4.3 percent in the same month last year, and is lower than the national June average of 5.3 percent.

A variety of employers are expected to attend the job fair, representing such fields as health care, veterans resources, staffing agencies, manufacturing, government, and others.

Allegra Boverman / NHPR


Gov. Maggie Hassan is signing a bill that modernizes securities regulations in New Hampshire, with the goal of making it easier for businesses to start up and grow.

The Uniform Securities Act is being signed into law Monday afternoon.

Hassan said the measure helps focus on investor protection and reduce hurdles for businesses trying to raise capital, while balancing the state's interest in regulating securities transactions.

Justin Shearer / Flick/Creative Commons

 Home sale prices and median home prices both rose in June compared to the same month in 2014. That’s according to a new housing report from RE/MAX INTEGRA New England and another from the New Hampshire Association of Realtors. 

NHAR president Maxine Goodhue says while overall home inventory is up as well, the market still slightly favors buyers, judging by the length of time it takes to sell a home. 

“The ones that really present well and are desirable are selling very quickly,” Goodhue says. “The ones that are more unique are sitting a little bit longer.”

J. Stephen Conn / Flickr / Creative Commons

Several times a year New Hampshire Employment Security releases short-term forecasts on jobs. For the period of late 2014 through late 2016, the state expects 14,197 new jobs, which would be a gain of two percent for the period. The forecast says job growth is expected in every sector of the economy and in nearly every job category.

Seattle Municipal Archives via Flickr Creative Commons /

Social media has killed nostalgia, and iPhones are ruining summer camp. On today's show, we explore how social media has replaced that shoe box in the closet that keeps the past hidden and contained. Then, machines take over for humans and slog through the dirty work, leaving people free to do whatever they choose in a world without work. We talk about what a post-job society might look like, and how we might prepare for it. But meanwhile, the number of older Americans working is on the rise. 

Predicting the future of technology is never easy. The incredible capabilities of the smartphone in my pocket today were nearly inconceivable in 1989.

That’s when NHPR’s Leslie Bennett made this fateful comment:

“It seems like telephones have gotten as complicated as they’re ever going to get. I may regret saying that.” 

Ouch – sorry, Leslie. She was speaking from Datatech ’89, a business technology trade show in Manchester. The vendors she spoke with shared their visions for office technology in the ‘90s and beyond:

“These fax machines can talk back and forth to each other. And we do have some that are live, actually hooked up to live telephone lines … We can talk to Japan if we want to, or Russia, or anywhere else.” 

That’s right … fax machines were a hot item in 1989. Makes you wonder, doesn’t it? What exciting gadget from today will be a fossil tomorrow?

From The Archives this week, we revisit Leslie Bennett’s story from Datatech ’89.

Flickr/Diana Parkhouse

  New data shows New Hampshire’s housing market picked up momentum in May.

The latest RE/MAX INTEGRA New England Housing Report shows the number of units sold in May 2015 was up 8.3 percent compared to the same period a year ago. Median home prices are up 4.5 percent, and overall housing inventory is up as well.

New Hampshire’s year-to-year sales growth in May was the strongest of any New England state. 

New Hampshire gas prices appear to be stabilizing after climbing in recent weeks. 

  Dan Goodman of Triple A Northern New England says the onset of summer often leads to a rise in gas prices. This month U.S. consumers saw the highest gas prices of the year, reaching an average of $2.80 per gallon.

But he says U.S. production has increased, as has production overseas.

“The world leaders in crude exports – Saudi Arabia and other Arab nations – are increasing oil production to record levels,” he says.

Jacob Carozza /NHPR

In New Hampshire, it’s not easy to find a package of JG Coconut Mushrooms, or a jar of clotted cream, or a can of mushy peas.

“Any dinner you would have with a pie you have mushy peas on the side,” says Stephanie Pressinger, president of The British Aisles in Greenland.

“Someone who hasn’t been to England or doesn’t know the culture would say, ‘Why would you want mushed peas?’”

New Hampshire maple syrup producers saw higher yields last winter compared to the previous year.

Data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture found New Hampshire produced 154,000 gallons of syrup this year, compared to 112,000 in 2014.

Cold weather shortened the maple syrup season by several days in 2015, but yield per tap rose in New Hampshire over the winter.

Syrup production in the northeast totaled 2.96 million gallons, up 7 percent from 2014.

Brady Carlson / NHPR

If a bakery does its work right, there will be something for every customer. Katie Johnson, the owner of From Scratch Baking Company in Wolfeboro, shows off her offerings: cases of peanut butter brownies, red velvet cupcakes, and salted chocolate cookies.