Part 4: Which NH Counties Won New Residents (And Lost Old Ones)

snow0810 / Flickr

As in our previous posts, we're continuing with a light bit of boxing imagery for entertainment purposes

One of our most popular sets of posts has been an occasional series with a different take on migration into–and out of–New Hampshire.  Using IRS data, Jon Bruner of Forbes traced where people in every county in the country were moving to–and from–between 2005 and 2009.  Then, he generated a really cool map that allows you to click on counties and see how far-flung their competitors for residents actually are.

The question of migration is important for a number of reasons.  The most obvious one, of course, is tax base.  No government wants to lose revenue to somewhere else.

All things considered, New Hampshire’s economy is doing reasonably well now.  But looking decades into the future, a larger-than-normal question mark looms.  New England as a whole is facing a shortage of young people.  And those young people aren’t having a lot of kids.  While Bruner’s map doesn’t list migration by age, we can draw some reasonably solid conclusions thanks to other demographic info to fill in some blanks.

In our final post on this theme, we take a look Merrimack Valley migration.

Just like before, 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 2009 figures.*  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.)

Hillsborough County:

The Overarching Story: Hillsborough County is home to the two largest cities in the state, Manchester and Nashua.  In short, it’s a serious contender.  Given its relatively high population-density, it’s not surprising that we see a lot of movement in and out of the area.  After 2005, however, most of that movement has been away from the county.  In 2006, out-migration just inched above in-migration, and that gap steadily expanded in the run-up to 2009.  Despite the continued trend toward out-migration, overall county population ultimately increased by 4,340 between 2005 and 2010–to 400,721 people.  Given the county’s southerly geography, it’s probably not surprising that some of the highest in-migration numbers don’t come from inside New Hampshire at all, but rather from Massachusetts.

Biggest Wins In 2009:

  • 1,941 from Middlesex County, Massachusetts
  • 555 from Essex County, Massachusetts
  • 287 from Worcester County, Massachusetts
  • 260 from Belknap County
  • 161 from Grafton County

Biggest Losses In 2009:

  • 2,463 to Rockingham County
  • 1,891 to Merrimack County
  • 151 to Norfolk County, Massachusetts
  • 133 to York County, Maine
  • 129 to Wake County, North Carolina (Raleigh)
  • 129 to Maricopa County, Arizona (Phoenix)

Farthest Out-Of-State Losses

  • Honolulu County, Hawaii
  • King County, Washington (Seattle)
  • Multnomah County, Oregon (Portland)
  • Los Angeles County, California
  • San Diego County, California
  • Pima County, Arizona (Tucson)
  • Maricopa County, Arizona (Phoenix)

Merrimack County

Brian Hubbard / Flickr

Despite hosting the seat of state government, Merrimack County isn't really a contender in terms of population (or migration)

The Overarching Story:  Merrimack County is home to the seat of state government in Concord.  Despite its capital county status, however, its 2010 population of 146,445 pales in comparison to its southern neighbor, Hillsborough County.  In-migration to Merrimack County out-paced out-migration in both 2005 and 2006.  By 2007, the number of people coming into the area was just a hair greater than the number of people leaving.  Then, beginning in 2008, out-migration out-paced new residents’ arrivals.  The end result: between 2005 and 2010, Merrimack saw a net gain of 1,250 people.

Biggest Wins:

  • 1,891 from Hillsborough County
  • 355 from Grafton County
  • 201 from Sullivan County

Biggest Losses:

  • 610 to Rockingham County
  • 219 to Strafford County
  • 165 to Middlesex County, Massachusetts
  • 88 to Esses County, Massachusetts

Farthest Out-Of-State Losses:

  • King County, Washington (Seattle)
  • Los Angeles County, California
  • Clark County, Nevada (Las Vegas)
  • Maricopa County, Arizona (Phoenix)
  • Harris County, Texas (Houston)


*When we began this occasional series, the latest figures available were from 2009.  Since then, the map’s been updated with 2010 figures.  But, for the sake of apples-to-apples comparisons, for this latest installment of the series, we’re sticking with the 2009 stats–and highly encouraging you to check out how the trends changed over the course of a year.


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