NH Public Policy
New Hampshire Center for Public Policy Studies

New Hampshire's Economic Outlook 2017

Executive Summary

Date: January 18th, 2017

The New Hampshire economy is in great shape. Businesses are adding workers at a pace not seen since 2000, rivaling Massachusetts for the fastest growing private sector within New England. Various measures of unemployment have steadily declined and are nearing record low levels, signaling that any resident who is willing and able can likely find work. These positive signs from the labor market appear to be flowing through to the pocketbooks and consumer psyches of Granite State households.

According to the Business and Industry Association of New Hampshire’s recent Report on Consumer Confidence, the proportion of households who report stable or improving financial conditions is at its highest in over a decade. This survey finding is corroborated by hard data on real estate transactions (more sales at higher prices) and tax receipts from the state’s meals and rooms tax (strong and steady growth).

Nevertheless, these healthy economic advances are not being realized throughout the state, but have been isolated to those cities and towns closely linked to the Boston metro economy. In fact, many parts of rural New Hampshire have recovered very little, if at all, from the Great Recession. 

 Going forward, the rate at which employers add workers is expected to slow and eventually come to a halt, not so much due to weaker demand on their end, but rather because the inventory of workers from which the public and private sector can select from to expand their operations will be extremely limited.

 Part of this tight inventory stems from the extraordinarily low level of unemployed residents. It is also being driven by a momentous shift in the state’s demographic landscape.