New Census Data Show Continued Domestic Migration To N.H.

Sep 14, 2018

New census data released today show that New Hampshire continues to gain population from domestic migration, or people moving from other states to New Hampshire. New Hampshire is also gaining immigrants from other countries. All Things Considered host Peter Biello spoke with Ken Johnson, Senior Demographer at the Carsey School of Public Policy and Professor of Sociology at the University of New Hampshire.

The new data show that 11,000 people came to New Hampshire from other states on net. Is this a continuation of a trend and if so how long has the trend been going on?

Yes, this is certainly a continuation of the trend we've seen for about the last three years for New Hampshire. Before that New Hampshire's domestic migration was considerably lower as the impact of the recession continued to exert itself on New Hampshire. 

Is there anything that could explain why New Hampshire's been gaining population from other states in recent years?

In many ways it's a reversion to the patterns that were going on in New Hampshire before the Great Recession. And it's also consistent with patterns we're seeing in other parts of the United States. States that traditionally had gained migrants from other parts of the United States have begun to gain more again after slowing down in the recession. States that tend to lose migrants to other parts of the United States, like Massachusetts, are beginning to lose more migrants again. In other words, in many ways it looks as if we're seeing trends reverting to the patterns before the Great Recession, at least with reference to migration.

What is it about New Hampshire that caused migration from other states to stop during the recession? 

In large part what happened during the recession was that people stopped moving. In essence they were sort of frozen in place by the recession either because they had houses that they would lose money on or they had a good job and they didn't want to take a risk on moving to another place, especially in dual wage households.

One of the big streams of migrants into New Hampshire tends to be family-age couples with children as well as some older adult migration, particularly to the recreational areas in New Hampshire. Both of those trends slowed down during the recession but they're beginning to pick up again now, both in New Hampshire and in other parts of the United States.

What about immigration from other countries? Are we gaining more immigrants from other countries than we have in recent years?

Immigration to the United States from other countries remained fairly stable in New Hampshire over the last several years. In both of these migration streams, domestic migrants coming from other states and immigration to New Hampshire is really beneficial to New Hampshire because immigrants to New Hampshire, as well as domestic migrants from other parts of the United States, tend to be better educated. They bring that human capital with them when they come to New Hampshire. The slowdown of migration was problematic for New Hampshire and the fact that it's picking up again is really good news for the state.

When all these new people get here, where do they tend to go? Are they clustering in a certain areas or is it spread out?

There are significant concentrations of them in southern, southeastern New Hampshire, primarily because in many ways it's sort of the outermost edges of the of the Boston metropolitan area. Some people prefer to live in New Hampshire where housing is less expensive than in Massachusetts.

The other place that tends to draw them is into the recreational areas in Carroll County around Lake Winnipesaukee on the other lakes and mountainous regions up there. Those have long been magnets to migrants into New Hampshire.

Overall it sounds like you think this is a good thing for New Hampshire, this population growth.

Yes, I think it is. It's modest, it certainly doesn't compare to the size of the migration streams into New Hampshire during the 80s and 90s. But many people would argue that that was a little bit overwhelming for the state to get that much migration. But having talented people in their family age, coming in many cases with children, is probably, I would think, good for the state, at least as I look at the situation.