NH Public Policy
New Hampshire Center for Public Policy Studies

New Hampshire's Foreign Born Population

Executive Summary

Date: May 27th, 2015

New Hampshire currently has approximately 75,000 foreign born residents out of the state’s 1.3 million residents. While the state’s overall foreign-born population is small compared with much of the rest of the country, immigration has played an important role in the state’s recent migratory trends. In fact, without foreign immigration, New Hampshire would have seen a net outmigration (more people leaving the state than moving in) over the past five years, rather than the slight increase we did see in that span.

This report describes the current characteristics of immigration in New Hampshire and the state’s foreign-born population. Too often, the narrative of immigration in New Hampshire focuses on foreign refugees and the perception that those residents strain public resources. This is an incomplete and misleading picture, and the word “immigrant” covers a broad range of people and experiences.

Among the findings in this report:

  • Almost 39 percent of New Hampshire’s foreign-born residents have a bachelor’s degree or better, ranking New Hampshire among the top ten states in the country in the education level of foreign-born residents.
  • Despite accounting for less than 6 percent of the state population, the foreign born account for nearly one in ten New Hampshire residents with a graduate or professional degree.
  • Skilled foreign workers are in high demand in New Hampshire. Qualified foreign students can easily attend New England colleges and universities, but only a small number of visas are offered for employment based immigration. One study estimates that expansion of the H1B high-skilled visa program would create 2,000 new jobs in New Hampshire by 2020.
  • In 2013 New Hampshire foreign-born workers earned about $2 billion in wages working in New Hampshire industries, or about 6.4 percent of the $29 billion in wages earned in the state. New Hampshire’s foreign-born workers held more than 38,000 jobs in New Hampshire in that year, about 6.2 percent of the total state job base.