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New Hampshire Seeing Largest Population Increase in New England

Numbers from recent U.S. Census population estimates, compiled by UNH demographer Dr. Kenneth Johnson. The Census Bureau is expected to release more detailed population data in early 2021.

Estimates from the U.S. Census suggest much of Northeast is losing population, but New Hampshire is seeing a slight increase. 

A brief from theCarsey School of Public Policy at UNH shows that over the past year, most New England states saw a population decrease, with the exception of New Hampshire and Maine.

In the past four years, New Hampshire has experienced the largest percentage growth, but it’s small: less than half a percent annually.

"Everything is relative,” says Dr. Kenneth Johnson, a demographer at UNH who authored the Carsey School brief. “Relative to U.S. growth patterns, it’s modest. Compared to the South and the West, it’s low. Compared to the Northeast and large parts of the Midwest, it’s not high but it's certainly higher.”

Johnson attributes the population change in New Hampshire to adults migrating here from other states. Most of the growth is in Hillsborough, Rockingham, and Strafford counties.

Zachary Swick, of the Southern New Hampshire Planning Commission, said growth is far slower than in the 1970’s, 80’s, and 90’s, when some towns in southern New Hampshire saw population increases of more than 10 percent annually.

But Swick said even with modest growth, there are tensions over development.

“You can't grow if people don't have anywhere to go,” he said. “Everybody's worried about housing affordability, but at the same time, everybody's worried about maintaining the way their town is now. So there's always that dynamic.”

Sarah Gibson joined NHPR's newsroom in 2018. She reports on education and demographics.
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