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.

  A manufacturer based in Milford is planning to expand and add more positions.

Hitchiner Manufacturing supplies metal castings. It's asked the town for approval on two additions, one for 25,000 square feet, and the other 6,000 square feet. The new space will also allow for the production of new products and add space for loading docks, modern electrical and bigger machinery.

Hitchiner is hoping to hire about 35 new workers. The company is currently in discussions with several new customers, with the possibility it could hire up to 200 new employees.

Allegra Boverman / NHPR

The New Hampshire Senate has narrowly approved a bill to limit the power of unions to charge non-members for representation.

Related: Click here to see a New Hampshire Right-to-Work explainer 

 

The debate of right-to-work was a essentials a formality in the GOP-controlled senate, but lawmakers still took two hours to air long-familiar arguments about what the law would mean for NH.

 

New Hampshire’s unemployment rate fell one-tenth to 2.6 percent in December, capping off a strong year for most sectors of the state’s economy.

The final jobs report of 2016 from New Hampshire Employment Security finds that nearly 16,000 more residents had jobs than at the start of the year, and that those jobs came in a variety of sectors.

Current Population Survey, © 2016 by Barry T. Hirsch and David A. Macpherson

New Hampshire lawmakers are again debating Right-to-Work laws, with bills currently moving through both the House and Senate. With Republican majorities in both chambers, and a newly-elected governor who favors Right-to-Work, the policy stands its best chance of passing in more than a decade.

But Right-to-Work isn’t exactly a kitchen-table kind of issue. If you aren’t in a union, or a large business owner, you may not know much about its history, what Right-to-Work does, or why it matters.

Tax Credits via Flickr Creative Commons

Among the slate of economic measures state lawmakers will consider next session is a bill to impose an income tax. The sponsor is well aware of what he’s up against.

  New Hampshire is closing out 2016 with the nation's lowest unemployment rate, wages that are on the rise and strong real estate sales.

Combined, these factors show the state's economy is strong heading into 2017. The state's gross domestic product growth rate of 2.9 percent is among the highest in the nation, according to the most recently available federal data.

Several New Hampshire economists say the state is in its strongest economic shape since the Great Recession.

Allegra Boverman/NHPR

New Hampshire has been awarded $80 million from the federal government to build a bio research and manufacturing institute in Manchester. 

The money, which was granted by the U.S. Department of Defense, will create a new institute to develop and bio-manufacture tissues and organs that can be transplanted into patients - particularly wounded military veterans. 

 

NHPR

Year-end reports show positive trends: from very low unemployment to the addition of 17,000 jobs in 2016. However, rental prices continue to rise, and while the Granite State has plenty of jobs, it badly needs people to fill them.

Ryan Caron King | NENC

It’s hard to avoid the hand-wringing about aging demographics in New England these days. The region's six states have the six lowest birth rates in the country. Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont have the oldest populations in the country, and Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts aren't far behind.

Todd Bookman/NHPR

Cruise along just about any back road in New Hampshire and you’re likely to come across an old wooden barn. The state is home to more than 15,000 of them, each one an iconic reminder of New Hampshire’s agricultural roots.

But after decades of neglect, there’s no shortage of run-down eyesores out there, seemingly one good wind gust away from collapsing.

Michael Brindley

The state’s outgoing Director of Economic Development Carmen Lorentz sat down with NHPR's Morning Edition to reflect on her time on the job, and what needs to happen to improve the state's economy.

Lorentz isn't going far: she's the new Executive Director of the Laconia Area Community Land Trust.

Fairpoint Communications To Be Sold

Dec 5, 2016
Ibew Fairpoint via Flickr CC

Fairpoint Communications, the largest telephone provider in Northern New England, is being sold. Illinois-based Consolidated Communications says it is buying Fairpoint for 1.5 billion dollars, marking a new chapter in the Fairpoint story, which has been marked by consumer complaints, union unrest and bankruptcy.

Last year, Fairpoint workers ended a year-long strike with a new contract that included worker concessions on health care and retirement benefits.

Emily Corwin / NHPR

The New Hampshire internet company, Dyn, has restored services after a cyber-attack Friday morning.

The Manchester-based company provides internet infrastructure services to major internet companies including Twitter, Etsy, and CNBC.

Dyn says it began investigating the attack early Friday morning as it began to affect websites on the East coast.  Reportedly, Dyn customers including Twitter, Spotify, and Reddit were shut down or performing poorly.

By 10:30 this morning, Dyn said its services had been restored. 

Chris Jensen for NHPR

In 1973, twenty-somethings Grant Dowse and his wife Pegge Kirschner were coming back home to Franconia from Europe and they were in love – with flannel sheets. 

There were flannel sheets in America, but the ones they’d slept on in Europe seemed so much nicer. Higher quality.

And they came up with the idea to import them. They named the company after a hill not far from their home, which was a former sugar house that lacked running water.

Pegge’s brother, Buddy Kirschner, still marvels at it.

New Hampshire’s job market continues to show signs of strength.

The state added 620 jobs last month, pushing the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate down a tenth of a point to 2.9 percent. Since the start of the year, gains have been made across most sectors of the economy, from leisure and hospitality to education and manufacturing.

The Manchester internet company Dyn has a new CEO. Colin Doherty is succeeding Dyn co-founder Jeremy Hitchcock. 

Dyn is an internet performance management company based in Manchester, with clients including Visa, Netflix and Twitter.

Working Then and Now & From the Archives

Sep 29, 2016
John Georgiou via flickr Creative Commons

It's NHPR's Fall Fund Drive! You can help support our show and NHPR by making a contribution here:

NHPRFundDrive.org

In the meantime, during the fund drive we'll be airing some favorite segments from our archives. Plus, today we have a new interview with Joe Richman who talks about his new project for Radio Diaries.

Here's what's on today's show:

New Hampshire Public Radio in partnership with the Business and Industry Association and New Hampshire Business Review present a forum between the Democratic and Republican nominees for the United State Senate.

N.H. Economic News Roundup: Winners and Losers

Sep 9, 2016
NHPR

We examine winners and losers in today's Granite State economy. We look at differences between northern and southern New Hampshire, residents with college degrees and without, and the future of various sectors such as technology, health care and manufacturing.


If you’ve spent any time following the Republicans running for governor this year, you’ve probably heard plenty of talk about the need to jumpstart New Hampshire’s economy.

 New Hampshire Public Radio in partnership with the Business and Industry Association and New Hampshire Business Review present a forum between the Democratic and Republican nominees for governor.

The discussion will be moderated by Laura Knoy, host of The Exchange, and panelists will consist of journalists from NHBR and NHPR

nheconomy.com

Both major candidates have promised to revive manufacturing jobs.  We look at the root causes of its decline, including imports and automation.  We explore what it would take to renew this sector, both in the U.S. and in New Hampshire, and identify the challenges in creating manufacturing jobs here in the state. Dean Spiliotes is guest host.

 A note to listeners: This show contains a comment that some listeners found offensive. 

neetalparekh / flickr/cc

With politicians promising to create so-called "good jobs", we look at what government can and can't do in this area.  Also, rents in the Granite State keep rising, up fifteen percent in the last five years.  And New Hampshire joins a national lawsuit challenging the merger of two health insurance companies, Anthem and Cigna. 


Politics in Hip Hop, Sleepover Podcast, & Twinkies

Jul 22, 2016
Jenn Durfey via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/8VUiJf

Since it's early days, hip hop have critiqued oppressions both political and economic - while flashing their own wealth and bravado. Donald Trump became a symbol of the latter, but recent mentions of him in hip hop have become much less positive during his campaign for president in the 2016 election. 

Plus, a few years ago, one of America's most beloved snack cakes was in danger of disappearing forever - until investors swooped in and saved the day. What started out as a rescue mission quickly evolved into a business strategy, and resulted in substantial changes to the brand. How are we preserving the mythical, magical Twinkie.

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