N.H. Economic News Roundup: Winners and Losers
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.
Recent news from Dartmouth Hitchcock spurs discussion about the impact of healthcare on New Hampshire’s economy. The announcement by Dartmouth Hitchcock’s CEO, James Weinstein, that the hospital will lay off up to 5% of employees, raises issues about economic vitality in northern areas of the state, including Lebanon, where Dartmouth Hitchcock is based.
Jeff Feingold says that many smaller hospitals in the state are joining with larger healthcare networks, and Dartmouth might be losing out to bigger hospitals in Massachusetts.
There is so much consolidation going on. There are a lot of alliances by smaller hospitals with larger hospitals. Because Dartmouth is the Big Kahuna up here, it has to compete with Lahey Clinic and Mass General [both in Massachusetts] and apparently they have not really made as much of a successful effort.
Steve Norton notes that Dartmouth Hitchcock has struggled to create accountable care organizations, which work with larger hospitals to provide care, throughout the state.
Unfortunately, Dartmouth is far away from population centers. [Mass General and Lahey Clinic] are at the center of a big population center and they are reaching out to try and create alliances and draw these patients for their tertiary and quaternary care down to Boston. You can see Dartmouth’s efforts to align with [other providers in the state]…but they might be behind the eight-ball a bit.
Like healthcare, retirement is a major factor in the health of New Hampshire's economy.
One listener asked if higher taxes are on the horizon for all Granite Staters: "The public pension obligations continue to expand dramatically for the public sector and NH has one of the 10 worst unfunded pension systems in the country according to Bloomberg. If higher taxes for all of us are on the horizon, what might this imply for our state’s economy?"
Russ Thibeault says a solution to the pension problem may be in sight:
There is hope that as interest rates rise and get to more normal levels, the rates of return for the investment of the pension fund today that will pay future benefits.
Feingold says the pension system is a major issue and is likely to come up in future political debates this election season.
Finally, our guests discussed employment in the Granite State. As The Exchange covered in June, the population in New Hampshire is in transition. Norton says:
We're losing workforce. They're aging out, or they're moving elsewhere, and we're not seeing people move in. I think almost all industries now face shortages in employment.