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N.H. Census Updates: The Upper Valley leads a Census analysis of 551 U.S. 'micropolitan' areas.

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The census is the government’s attempt to count every person living in the U.S., regardless of citizenship status. It guides major decisions about federal spending and political power. The 2020 census numbers will be used for legislative redistricting and for calculating how the federal government divvies up trillions of dollars for healthcare, social services, transportation, and schools.

They also help us understand the racial and ethnic makeup of New Hampshire, and other demographic trends and how those are changing over time.

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The Upper Valley tops Census analysis of 'micropolitan areas'
Updated: 10:18 a.m., Oct. 15

The Upper Valley has the highest number of businesses, employees, and self-employed people of any similarly populated region in the United States, according to an analysis by the US Census Bureau released this week.

The Bureau examined the country’s 551 “micropolitan areas.” which are typically comprised of a central city or cities with 10,000 to 50,000 people, and surrounding towns with strong commuting ties.

Business activity was highest in the Claremont-Lebanon micropolitan region, which includes the Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, Grafton and Sullivan counties in New Hampshire and Windsor and Orange Counties in Vermont.

The latest data show 6,500 businesses, 90,000 employees, and 20,446 self-employed people in that region. Salaries in the region range dramatically, but the average salary was $55,510, higher than the national average. The self-employed group in the region generated about $1 billion in sales.

Within the Upper Valley, though, there are major differences. In Grafton County, the biggest employer is health care and social assistance, followed by education. Incomes in Grafton County tend to be far higher than in Sullivan, where the biggest employer is manufacturing, followed by retail trade.
-Sarah Gibson, NHPR

New Census Data Shows Large Increase In Non-White New Hampshire Residents From 2010-2020
Updated: September 3, 3:07 p.m.

Newly released census data shows a nearly 75 percent jump in non-white residents in New Hampshire during the last decade.

Non-white residents now make up about 13 percent of the state's overall population and 20 percent of the state’s under 18 population.

UNH demographer Ken Johnson, who published an analysis of census data this week, found that in the cities of Manchester, the percentage of non-white kids is 43.1 percent. In Nashua, it is 45.4 percent.

“We're talking about over 40 percent of the children being minority now, in a state that's been so much non-Hispanic white,” Johnson says. “That's pretty striking.”

Areas of the Seacoast and Hanover-Lebanon also saw a major increase in diversity among those under age 18.

According to census data, the largest non-white group is Hispanic, followed by Multiracial, Asian and Black. The Multiracial category likely includes many people who identify as both white and another race.

Four percent of the population identified in the 2020 census as multiracial and non-Hispanic, an increase that some attribute to sociological shifts and changes in how the census collected information.

Where did N.H. lose and gain the most people?

Updated: August 26, 4:47 p.m.

New Hampshire grew by 4.6% over the past decade. But growth varied by town and city. In some places, population declined dramatically. These changes in population affect housing availability (and affordability), access to municipal services and local politics.

Here’s a snapshot of how some of the population change varied across the state:

Most of New Hampshire’s big cities and towns saw growth higher than the state average. Rochester saw the biggest population increase of any city, at 9.21%. Dover and Lebanon grew by close to 9%. New Hampshire’s biggest cities, Nashua and Manchester, both grew by about 5.6%.

But a few cities lost population. Berlin lost the most of any New Hampshire city, at 6%, despite the opening of a federal prison in 2012, which was pitched as a job creator for the city. Not counting the estimated number of incarcerated people in the state and federal prisons in the city, Berlin lost closer to 11.5% of its population in the last ten years. The populations of Keene and Claremont also declined.

Several smaller communities saw big swings in population. The tiny ski resort town of Waterville Valley, for instance, doubled in size; while the town of Stewartstown, population 813, shrank by about 19% from its 2010 population of 1,004.

As the population changes, so do the demands for housing and municipal services. 

Waterville Valley used to have major fluctuations in population depending on the season.

But in recent years, many families have converted their vacation homes into permanent residences. Daily demands on water, sewer, and trash facilities are up, even though the tax base has remained about the same.

Town manager Mark Decoteau assumed this would be a one-year spike. But enrollment numbers for the upcoming school year suggest most of these families are staying.

“We were wondering how much this would continue, and we’re starting to get answers to that. We’ve added 7% to our population this year [2021],” he says. “The growth hasn’t stopped and I don’t think as many people as we thought are going back.”

Growth of permanent residents is also significant in the vacation towns of Jackson, Sugar Hill, and Moultonborough.

As more people move here, New Hampshire cities look to address affordable housing shortage

Nashua city officials say they’re trying to ensure housing units built in the city can meet the needs of two demographics: young families looking to buy their first home, and older people looking to downsize.

Sarah Marchant, Nashua’s director of community development, says in the past five to six years, the city has added 600 housing units downtown. “A good percentage of those units are affordable by deed, and many are market-rate,” she adds.

Like much of the United States, the city of Nashua is becoming more racially and ethnically diverse. About 30% of its residents identified as non-white in the 2020 Census; 13.4% identified as Latino. In the city’s schools, about 28% of students are Latino.

It is unclear whether these numbers are a true measure of the growing diversity in Nashua and elsewhere; national experts suspect that some Latinos did not report their race and ethnicity on the most recent census, in part out of concerns that federal agencies would use the data to target undocumented Latinos.

“We have a lot of diversity in Nashua,” says Mayor Jim Donchess. “We welcome new residents and want everybody to live here, because we think it provides a great family environment.”

Housing Availability In N.H.: A Quick Look At The Data

Updated: August 17, 2:51 p.m.

Since 2010, there are more places to live in New Hampshire—about 24,000 more—with new housing units concentrated in southern counties where population has also been growing the fastest. That doesn't mean, however, that finding a home is easier in 2020. Vacancy rates are down across the state, and despite new construction, there are 15,300 fewer available units now than there were ten years ago. The overall growth in housing units—3.8%—has not kept up with the overall 4.6% growth in population over the same time period. That's according to the latest U.S. Census data on the state, released last week.

Migration, Aging And Diversity: What We Know So Far About N.H.

Updated: August 13, 11:39 a.m.

We spoke with UNH demographer Ken Johnson about the early takeaways from the data on Morning Edition. Here are some details he shared.

Four Things To Know About N.H. And The Census

  • The state of New Hampshire grew by 4.6% between 2010 and 2020, the second-highest percentage in New England. Only Massachusetts grew faster.
  • Over 80 percent of the growth in the state's population was because of migration. There were only about 6,500 more births than deaths in the state, significantly fewer than in the previous decade.
  • We don’t have much detailed data on the aging population in N.H. But estimates show the older population in New Hampshire is increasing while the younger population is decreasing. 
  • New Hampshire is becoming more diverse, but not anywhere near as diverse as the rest of the country. In 2010 it was 94% non-Hispanic white; now it is 88 percent non-Hispanic white. Hillsborough County is the most diverse county in the state.

Find a transcript of the conversation here.

Modest Growth Across N.H., With Population Decreases In Some Rural Areas

Updated: August 12, 6 p.m.

New Hampshire’s population grew by 4.6 percent between 2010 and 2020, according to data released today by the U.S. Census Bureau. The state now has about 1.4 million residents.

Rockingham and Strafford counties grew the most, at around 6 percent each. Most of this growth was driven by in-migration rather than births.

The state’s two largest cities, Manchester and Nashua, each grew at a rate of 5.5 percent, the same rate as Hillsborough County as a whole.

Cheshire and Sullivan counties saw slight population decreases, while Coos County saw a 5 percent decrease, the largest in the state.

3 counties lose population as New Hampshire adds diversity

New Hampshire’s northernmost county is no longer alone in losing population, according to U.S. Census Bureau figures released Thursday that show populations also shrunk in two other counties over the last decade.

Already the most sparsely populated, Coos County had been the only one of the state’s 10 counties to lose population between 2000 and 2010. The new figures show that trend accelerating, with a 5% decline from 2010 to 2020.

Small population declines also were seen in the southwest corner of the state, where Cheshire County’s population dropped by about 1% and Sullivan County’s dropped by less than 2%.

Overall, the state’s population grew by 4.6% to 1,377,529. The biggest growth came in Belknap, Rockingham and Strafford counties, which each grew by 6%. In the previous decade, Strafford, Carroll and Grafton counties were the fastest growing.

The new figures also show that New Hampshire, historically one of the whitest states, is becoming a bit more diverse, shifting from 94% white to 88%. That makes it the fourth whitest state, behind Vermont, Maine and West Virginia.

The percent of the population identifying themselves as Hispanic or Latino increased by more than 60%, the sixth largest percentage change in the nation. But the population remains small at 4.3%.

The figures also show New Hampshire remaining one of the oldest states, ranking fourth behind Washington, D.C., Vermont and Maine for its percentage of residents age 18 and over. The 18+ population increased 9% to 81% of the total.

-Holly Ramer, The Associated Press

A note on the accuracy of the data collected in the 2020 census

The pandemic upended census operations in 2020, particularly in-person outreach efforts to renters, low-income families, college students, and people of color who are historically undercounted. Many census watchers say rushed door-knocking efforts and thwarted attempts by the Trump administration to add a citizenship question to the census may have also led to incomplete data and an undercount in immigrant communities.

But the Census Bureau says the response rate in New Hampshire and the U.S. was nearly 100 percent, and the data is accurate.

Learn more about what the Census Data can — and can’t— tell us, from NPR’s Hansi Lo Wang.

What's new about the 2020 census?

The 2020 census added a few new questions. For the first time, it gave couples living together the option of identifying as “same-sex” or “opposite-sex.” It also allowed you to write in a racial or ethnic identity (i.e. Irish, Haitian, Iraqi) if you identify as non-Hispanic and either white and/or Black.

Why does the census matter?

The census population count guides major decisions about federal spending and political power for the next ten years.

Experts estimate that the federal government sends over $1.5 trillion each year to states, municipalities, and nonprofits based on those areas’ population counts. In New Hampshire, that number is estimated at $6.5 billion annually, most of which goes to Medicare and Medicaid. The rest goes to a slew of initiatives for roads, hospitals, community development, schools, and low-income residents.

Data from the 2020 census will also guide the process of redistricting and reapportionment of political power. Some states may lose or gain a representative (or more) to the U.S. House of Representatives, based on the new population count. This won’t happen in New Hampshire, but local municipalities may see changes in the number of state reps they send to Concord.

The census also reveals demographic changes that illuminate a state and region’s shifting identity. In New Hampshire, data gathered since the 2010 census suggest that the percentage of people of color living in the state could soon reach 10 percent. If counted accurately, certain census tracts in cities like Manchester and Nashua will have much higher percentages of people of color.

-Sarah Gibson and Sara Plourde, NHPR

Sarah Gibson joined NHPR's newsroom in 2018. She reports on education and demographics.
Sara has been a part of NHPR since 2011. Her work includes data visualizations, data journalism, original stories reported on the web, video, photos and illustrations. She is responsible for the station's visual style and print design, as well as the user experience of NHPR's digital platforms.
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