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.
Chris Jensen for NHPR

Officials in the North Country are fighting a bill that would take a tax break designed to encourage business to locate in economically troubled Coos County and offer it statewide.

In 2008, as Coos staggered from the closing of paper plants, the state approved a bill proposed by Rep. Fred King of Colebrook that would provide a tax break for business-related construction – assuming the local jurisdiction approved.

Kandy Jaxx / Flickr

  The state is set to release its latest unemployment figures. 

 

A new poll shows New Hampshire residents remaining optimistic about the state's economy and only slightly less optimistic about the national economy.

The University of New Hampshire Survey Center polled 534 adults for the Business and Industry Association's Report on Consumer Confidence. Nearly half said they expect New Hampshire businesses to do well in the next year, while just over 40 percent said businesses nationwide are in for good financial times.

Jeff L / Flickr/CC

Even as this feud was still going on, back in the summer of 2014, experts on labor unions, corporate governance, and employee culture were noting just how unprecedented the boycott was. Now, there's a new book and a forthcoming film examining this epic battle and exploring its ramifications.

yogendra1989 / Flickr/CC

Several bills address the minimum wage this legislative season, including one to increase it gradually and exclude workers under age eighteen – a provision some say could bolster bipartisan support. But concerns remain about unintended consequences, especially among small businesses owners.

GUESTS:

NHPR

It’s become a common theme: voters are anxious – about national security, income inequality, and a government they see as unable to confront the country’s problems. Campaigns have tapped into these sentiments, often striking an angry tone. We’ll explore the extent of this discontent – and whether it's exceptional to this campaign season.

GUESTS:

Specspaces via Flickr Creative Commons

A new forecast projects 2016 will have one of the strongest real estate market in a decade. 

Allegra Boverman / Flickr/CC

Many analysts seem to be taking the stock markets recent swings in stride, saying the broader U.S. economy is on stronger footing.  Still, there are concerns, especially China's economic woes.

GUESTS:

Kandy Jaxx / Flickr

The state is set to release its latest jobs numbers on Wednesday, giving us a final look at the New Hampshire jobs picture in 2015. 

Andy L via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/deqA7J

The life of a 'repo man' is always intense; just imagine the stakes on the high seas. On today’s show, we’ll dive into the murky world of maritime "repo men", hired to recover ships stolen and scrubbed to hide their identity by gun runners, human traffickers, and pirates.

Then, for nearly 50 million U.S. workers, drug tests are a condition of employment. We'll look into the costs and efficacy of random drug testing. 

Another Report Shows Strength In October Home Sales

Nov 23, 2015
Specspaces via Flickr Creative Commons

Another set of housing data shows a rise in New Hampshire home sales in October. The latest New England Housing Report from RE/MAX INTEGRA showed there were 1,979 home sales in the state last month.

That number was more than 8 percent higher than the 1,819 sold in October 2014.

Specspaces via Flickr Creative Commons

  The latest monthly report from the Northern New England Real Estate Network suggests the housing market is beginning to slow down for the year.

But the data also appears to show the market remains stronger than it was at this time a year ago.

Justin Shearer / Flick/Creative Commons

New Hampshire continues to see slow but steady growth in its housing market. 

the_dead_pixel via Flickr/CC - http://ow.ly/U6UFT

State officials and representatives of three New Hampshire companies will head to the United Arab Emirates this month for an industry trade show.

Matt Dove / Flickr/CC

Also known as the “banking act of 1933,” this law stemmed from the 1920s stock market crash and Great Depression that followed, with restrictions on banks and other financial institutions. Glass-Steagall was overturned about twenty years ago, but some are pushing to bring it back.

GUESTS:

Sheryl Rich-Kern for NHPR

  The U.S. Department of Labor is looking to gather wage data for New Hampshire’s building and construction industries. 

  The Obama Administration is touting the economic benefits of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade deal between the U.S., Japan and 10 other Pacific Rim nations.

Neil Howard via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/pSpJ6w

Thoreau wrote, “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately.” His two years spent in solitude at Walden Pond left an indelible mark on the national psyche – and cemented the relationship between the inner self and the outdoors. Today, a writer reflects on two years in a cabin in the Vermont woods. Then, first we get rid of all the bosses!  We check in on the online retailer, Zappos, six months after their radical shift – getting rid of managers and declaring a self-organizing workforce. 

Kandy Jaxx / Flickr

The latest economic report from the New Hampshire Center for Public Policy Studies says 2016 will bring New Hampshire some of the strongest economic growth it’s seen in the last few years.

Bipartisan Effort Revises Health Rule For Small Businesses

Oct 13, 2015

President Obama signed legislation last Wednesday that makes a significant change in the health law's small business rules, following a rare bipartisan effort to amend the Affordable Care Act.

State Set To Release September Jobs Numbers

Oct 13, 2015

The state is set to release its latest jobs report today. 

The August report from New Hampshire Employment Security put the state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate at 3.6 percent, down a tenth of a point from July.

That’s in line with the generally strong jobs picture we’ve seen throughout the course of the year. 

But one of the reasons the rate fell in August was a drop of about 1,400 in the size of the labor force. 

New Hampshire Cancels Trade Mission To Colombia

Oct 12, 2015
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  After more than a year of planning, the state has called off this month’s planned trade mission to Colombia.

The mission was intended to help New Hampshire companies find export opportunities in Colombia. State officials say a number of firms expressed interest, but none signed up to make the trip.

Tina Kasim of the New Hampshire Office of International Commerce says the state is now considering a range of ways to help firms looking to do more business overseas.

Brady Carlson / NHPR

A group of game developers is looking to build a place for New Hampshire in the future of video games - and it starts with the new development hub known as Game Assembly.

Photo by Garrett via Flickr Creative Commons

Fans of Apple products will soon line up to buy the latest versions of the iPhone 6, which are available starting Friday. But if you haven’t already reserved one of the devices, you may want to hold off on getting in line at a New Hampshire store. 

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. 

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