Part 3: Which NH Counties Won New Residents–And Lost Old Ones

araza123 / Flickr

Find out more on which NH counties are challengers--and which are contenders--after the jump

One of our most popular drop-in series at StateImpact has been our county-by-county glimpses at migration rates.  Our work is based on  a map generated by Jon Bruner of Forbes.  (We still recommend you check it out.)  Using IRS data, Bruner traced where people in every county in the country were moving to–and from–between 2005 and 2009.

Although New Hampshire’s economy is doing very well now, given the circumstances, there are questions about whether the state will be on sound footing in the coming decades.  New England in general is experiencing a shortage of young people.  And the young people we have aren’t having a lot of kids.  In the past, New Hampshire’s been able to depend, to some extent, on people moving in from elsewhere.  But as we’ve seen in previous posts, that in-migration is concentrated in certain pockets throughout the state.  And while Bruner’s map doesn’t list migration patterns by age, we can fill in some gaps in key places based on what we know from New Hampshire economist- and demographer-types.

We’ve already looked at the North Country, White Mountains, Dartmouth-Sunapee, Monadnock Region, and Lakes Region.  (You can read those posts here and here.)

Now, it’s on to Strafford County and the Seacoast!

As always, we’ve boiled everything down to a set of key bullet points, to make it understandable.  Except for the “Overarching Story” portion, which covers all years, we’re looking at the most recent figures, from 2009.  And we’ve framed the narrative in terms of “wins” and “losses,” to make it entertaining.  It’s important to note, however, that since we’re dealing with raw numbers, sometimes the difference between a “win” and a “loss” for counties can be a handful of residents…or even just one.  (So in monetary terms, we’re not dealing with net figures…only gross.)


Conventional wisdom says Portsmouth's a draw for young professionals thanks to being the home of UNH and a number of innovative tech start-ups

Rockingham County:

The Overarching Story: As home to a number of tech start-ups, Rockingham County–the Seacoast region–is often viewed as the corner of the state most appealing to young professionals.  But since 2005, the number of people (of all ages) making their way to the Seacoast has steadily declined.  While the area didn’t see a net loss in residents from 2005-2009, in-migration hasn’t outpaced out-migration by that much.  Back in 2005, Rockingham County saw about 17,000 new residents–while losing roughly 16,000.  By 2007, the county was breaking even, although it saw a brief uptick in population growth the following year.  Then, in 2009, the county once again broke even.

Biggest Wins In 2009:

Biggest Losses In 2009:

  • 139 to Carroll County
  • 98 to Grafton County
  • 160 to Belknap County

Farthest Out-Of-State Losses:

  • Honolulu County, Hawaii
  • King County (Seattle), Washington
  • San Diego County, California
  • Harris County (Houston), Texas
  • Miami-Dade County, Florida

Strafford County

Andy Dolph / Flickr

Strafford County's managed to avoid a lot of population ups-and-downs, with its in-migration and out-migration rates roughly keeping pace over time

The Overarching Story: Between 2005 and 2009, Strafford County often broke even, population-wise. What’s interesting is that movements into–and out of–the area have pretty much declined in parallel. In 2005, the number of people coming to and leaving Strafford County was just under 6,600.  In 2006, the number of new residents reached the 6,600 mark, while the number of people leaving actually decreased from the year before.  By 2007, the number of people moving into the county still slightly outpaced the people leaving–hovering around the 6,000 mark.  Then, moving into 2008 and 2009, that rough 6,000 mark held even–for both new Strafford County residents migrating in and old residents leaving.  At least some of that even population movement could be accounted for by the presence of the main University of New Hampshire campus.  Some area young people attend college there and leave after graduation, while other students from outside Strafford County come in to go to school, and stay.

Biggest Wins In 2009:

  • 743 from York County, Maine
  • 382 from Hillsborough County
  • 285 from Essex County, Mass.
  • 189 from Merrimack County

Biggest Losses In 2009:

  • 376 to Carroll County
  • 77 to Cumberland County, Maine

Farthest Out-Of-State Losses In 2009:

  • King County (Seattle), Washington
  • Los Angeles County, California
  • Maricopa County (Phoenix), Arizona
Ed. Note:  In a previous version of this post, we described Rockingham County as, “home of…the main University of New Hampshire campus.”  The campus is actually in Strafford County.  We regret the error.


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