Tracing NH’s Slog Toward Economic Recovery / Flickr

How does NH's economic recovery look compared to the rest of the US?

A recent piece in the New York Times lays out what many Americans already believe:
For much of the country, economic recovery is a ways off.  Reporter Michael Cooper writes:

“Less than a tenth of the nation’s metropolitan areas have regained the jobs they lost in the economic downturn, according to a report…

Only 26 of the nation’s 363 metropolitan areas had recovered their lost jobs by the end of 2011, and only 26 more are projected to recover them by end of this year, according to the report, which was commissioned by the United States Conference of Mayors. It will take at least five years for the 80 hardest-hit areas to recover the jobs they lost, the report forecast.”

But what about New Hampshire’s economy?  Fortunately for us, IHS Global Insight cobbled together this nifty map for the Times.  (Our reporting follows below.)

IHS Global Insight / New York Times

According to IHS estimates, Hillsborough County–where most of the state’s jobs are located–will see economic recovery between 2013 and 2015.  In the interest of digging into this question a bit more, StateImpact got in touch with Dennis Delay, an economist at the New Hampshire Center for Public Policy Studies.

“The [economic] forecast I did last November called for recovery for the state in late 2013, early 2014,” Delay told us in an email.  “That means the state will again have 650,000 jobs, which was the number of jobs we had in New Hampshire before the recession began.”

“As far as the speed of the economic recovery, I am worried about that,” Delay continued.  “That worry comes from the usual suspects that appear to be slowing growth – this includes the European debt crisis, continued weakness in housing markets, low consumer and investor confidence, and government at all levels under significant fiscal stress.”

As for when each region of the state could finally see economic recovery, here’s Delay’s best estimates, based on some key economic factors:

  1. Seacoast: The housing market’s a bit more robust, “which implies more economic activity.”
  2. Southeast: Like most of the rest of the state, Hillsborough County hasn’t seen unemployment go up.  And thanks to its most-populated county status, it’s got the biggest workforce–and the most jobs–which gives it a built-in economic advantage.
  3. West: Historically, the Keene area hasn’t experienced the fast growth that the rest of New Hampshire has.  But it also hasn’t fallen as hard during the recession.  So this part of the state will have a shorter slog toward recovery.
  4. Central/Lakes Region: Tourism and manufacturing are the main drivers of this regional economy.  Delay notes, “They both appear to be doing fairly well right now,” which bodes well for recovery.
  5. North Country: This region’s been struggling to bring in more jobs for some time.  Meanwhile, its population is aging.  “Unfortunately,” Delay writes, “the North Country may not see the same level of jobs it had prior to the recession for quite some time.”

What do you think?  Does this forecast describe your experience as a New Hampshire worker?  Does a 2013-2015 recovery sound too optimistic to you, or not optimistic enough?  Please feel free to get the comments thread rolling!


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