New Hampshire Economy | New Hampshire Public Radio

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.
Susan Ladmer

Applications are now open for the Self Employed Livelihood Fund Program, or S.E.L.F. Governor Chris Sununu set up the fund under the federal CARES Act to provide economic relief to people who are self-employed. The maximum award amount a business can receive is $50,000.  

Applicants have until July 17, 2020 at 4 p.m. to submit their applications.

It may seem obvious, with double-digit unemployment and plunging economic output. But if there was any remaining doubt that the U.S. is in a recession, it's now been removed by the official scorekeepers at the National Bureau of Economic Research.

The bureau's Business Cycle Dating Committee — the fat lady of economic opera — said the expansion peaked in February after a record 128 months, and we've been sliding into a pandemic-driven recession since.

Courtesy

Most of us have never experienced anything quite like this moment. But Sharon Eng and her husband, who today own a manufacturing company in Belmont, happened to find themselves in the middle of another disease outbreak, on the other side of the world, in 2003. 

“My husband and I moved to Hong Kong in 1989, and we returned to the States in 2005,” said Eng. “So we got to see a lot of changes happen around the world. But in the latter part of our stay there, of course one of the most impactful changes, was when SARS hit.”

Courtesy of Baer

The Exeter New Hampshire-based hockey gear company Bauer is joining other manufacturers and universities in a push to make protective gear for medical staff and first responders.

Bauer's factory, located outside of Montreal, usually makes skates for professional hockey players. But in late March, it began designing plastic face shields meant to give people wearing masks an extra layer of protection from the coronavirus.

Bauer’s sister company in Liverpool, New York, typically manufactures lacrosse equipment. Now it is also making face shields.

The $2 trillion stimulus package passed unanimously by the Senate on Wednesday seeks to help soften the economic damage of the coronavirus. Here’s a summary of how the bill, which the House could take up as early as Friday, would likely impact New Hampshire residents and businesses. 

Direct Payments

Todd Bookman/NHPR

Booms, clangs and bangs — the sounds of a healthy supply chain — continue to echo on the production floor of Hitchiner Manufacturing in Milford.

While retailers and restaurants across New Hampshire are facing a sudden disruption in business, Hitchiner, like many of the state’s manufacturers, hasn’t yet felt the impact of the coronavirus epidemic.

Flickr/E Gregory

 

A federal judge in New York says a portion of the case against the Monroe, New Hampshire-based company Pete and Gerry's Organics can proceed. 

The animal rights group PETA sued the egg company last year on behalf of a group of customers, alleging that Pete and Gerry's was misleading customers about conditions on its farms.

 

N.H. Economic News Roundup: Forecasting 2020

Jan 3, 2020

2019 was a big year in economic news, from a trade war with China to rumors of a recession, to booming growth in some sectors, and lagging in others. We look at the big takeaways from last year, and what to watch in 2020, from real estate to workforce growth.

Original air date: Monday, January 6, 2020.

Steve Richardson via Flickr CC

A proposed bill in the New Hampshire House would expand a grant program from the state's agriculture department to include energy efficiency projects on farms.

The grant program currently supports farmers to better manage their fertilizer and manure to cut down on water pollution.

This bill would expand those grants to support energy efficiency projects such as sugar house equipment upgrades or on-farm electrical generation and storage.

A tax provision designed to boost local economies across the country has been getting a lot of attention in New Hampshire recently - not for its economic impact, but over allegations of political meddling. 

Sarah Gibson for NHPR

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren drew a stark ideological contrast between herself and political rivals on Thursday in a speech on her economic plans at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics.

Ken Teegarden via Flickr CC

Despite fears that a 2018 Supreme Court decision would open the floodgates on sales tax collection requests from New Hampshire businesses, a report from the N.H. Department of Justice shows that through October 31, not a single tax authority has filed the necessary notification to collect a tax.

The Federal Reserve cuts interest rates again, amid concern about U.S. manufacturing health.  A new state housing task force releases its recommendations, to expand the supply of lower-priced options.  And as winter approaches, seasonal businesses are on the hunt for temporary workers.

Original air date: Wednesday, November 6, 2019. 

Sarah Gibson for NHPR

 

Governor Sununu signed a bill on Wednesday aimed at supporting New Hampshire's struggling dairy industry. 

 

The law establishes the Dairy Premium Fund, a New Hampshire-specific logo for dairy products to be sold at a premium in grocery stores and increase revenue for participating farmers.

 


Mic Wernej via Flickr CC

A new law enacted on Monday approved The New Hampshire College Graduate Retention Incentive Partnership, a program designed to encourage recent college graduates to stay in the state after they receive their degrees. 

 

According to a survey of nearly 1,500 UNH graduates in the Class of 2018, nearly half had decided to leave New Hampshire after college for work.

Employees Laid Off At Oracle + Dyn In Manchester

Jun 25, 2019
Via Glassdoor

Numerous employees were laid off today today at Oracle + Dyn in Manchester, one of the Millyard's biggest employers.

Oracle has been conducting layoffs worldwide since March.

In a statement, Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig called Oracle's decision to lay off a significant number of employees in Manchester quote "upsetting and disappointing."

It is currently unknown how many workers received layoff notices.

Via Atlas PyroVision's Facebook page

President Trump has said that an increase in tariffs on Chinese goods would boost manufacturing and bring jobs back to the United States.

Stephen Pelkey, CEO of Jaffrey's Atlas PyroVision Entertainment Group in Jaffrey, says that for industries like his, this is not easy to do. Atlas is the largest fireworks company in New England.

Hundreds of business are in D.C. opposing tariffs this week, so how will trade discussions with China and Mexico, among other places, impact New Hampshire?  Also, we have a preview of the state's lucrative summer tourism season, and discuss what the Federal Reserve might do with interest rates. 

Sarah Gibson for NHPR

Massachusetts senator and presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren visited voters in Windham and Manchester, New Hampshire on Friday to pitch a plan she says will fight the influence of big corporations and rebuild the middle class.

Farmers Mkt Produce
USDA

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently published a census report on New Hampshire’s farming industry. The data shows that New Hampshire farms are becoming smaller and more profitable.

 

The USDA report, which is done every five years, shares numbers from 2017.

 

Some key findings:

Ellen Grimm / NH Public Radio

Our In-Depth series on New Hampshire's workforce shortage continues with: untapped workers. We ask: what groups of potential employees are being overlooked?  These might include recent immigrants, people with criminal records, people with disabilities, and older workers. 

       

We continue our series on New Hampshire's labor shortage.  Skilled labor, manufacturing, and healthcare are three sectors facing serious workforce shortages. We look at the specific challenges for these industries and others, the types of jobs they are struggling to fill, and the efforts they are making to recruit employees.

Ali Oshinskie

On the first day of our series of In Depth: Workforce Challenges in New Hampshire, we explain the numbers and how we got here: why is unemployment so low, how much of this is part of a larger national trend, what are the economic forces leading to low unemployment and high demand for workers, and where in our state is this most felt?

Ali Oshinskie

The Exchange is spending four days discussing the workforce challenges in the state, starting Monday, May 20th. Read on for information about each show, and to find links to each program. 

The Exchange, New Hampshire Public Radio’s daily news talk show, will explore how New Hampshire’s workforce shortage impacts the economic and social fabric of life in the state, with a special broadcast series beginning Monday, May 20.

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