Amanda Loder was StateImpact’s multimedia reporter until the project merged with the New Hampshire Public Radio site in July 2013. She now serves as a reporter and Weekend Edition Host for NHPR. You can continue to follow her work at @AmandaLoderNHPR, at nhpr.org, and on New Hampshire Public Radio.
New Hampshire has the lowest percentage of poor and low-income children in the country.
The Census Bureau has some good news for New Hampshire: The state has the lowest child poverty rate in the country. For a family with two parents and two kids, the government considers “poverty” as an annual income of $22,811. So these results are not terribly surprising in a state that has one of the highest median incomes in the country, and a relatively low unemployment rate. Even when you factor in the larger “low-income” category–the same family of four making less than double poverty wages ($45,622)–New Hampshire still has the best numbers in the country.
Democratic candidate Maggie Hassan is pushing education funding as key to bolstering the state's economy.
Next week, New Hampshire voters will decide who gets to run for governor this November. And despite the fact that most states would envy our 5.4 percent unemployment rate, jobs and the economy are the issues driving the primary elections. StateImpact lays out the similarities–and differences–between the plans of the leading Democratic candidates.
Q: What is each candidate proposing?
A: Broadly speaking, they’re very similar. Of course, on some level that’s not surprising, considering Maggie Hassan and Jackie Cilley are both Democrats. But unlike the Republican proposals, where you can pretty much go down the line and point out differences on how much they would cut various taxes or their stances on tax credits, it’s a tougher job to boil down their Democratic counterparts’ views at this point. Continue Reading →
Republican Ovide Lamontagne favors making cutting business taxes while also offering new tax credits.
Next week, New Hampshire voters will decide who gets to run for governor this November. And despite the fact that most states would envy our 5.4 percent unemployment rate, jobs and the economy are the issues driving the primary elections. StateImpact lays out the similarities–and differences–between the plans of the leading GOP candidates.
Q: How are Kevin Smith and Ovide Lamontagne’s proposals alike?
A: They’re both going the traditional conservative Republican route of cutting business taxes in some way, in the hope that it draws more enterprise into the state. Which they say would import more jobs. And they would off-set that drop in tax revenue from businesses at first by making budget cuts. The idea is that it doesn’t put more money into the state coffers immediately. But over time, as the number of tax-paying businesses increases, revenues will increase even though taxes were actually cut. You just have more people paying into the system. Continue Reading →
Republican Kevin Smith is proposing deeper business tax cuts than his primary opponent, Ovide Lamontagne.
With the gubernatorial primaries about a week away, the team at StateImpact is taking a closer look at how the leading contenders would boost New Hampshire’s economy. If you tune into Morning Edition tomorrow and again on Thursday, you’ll catch our quick comparisons of the two Republican and Democratic plans. (And, of course, we’ll be posting those discussions here on the blog.)
State election law limits corporate campaign contributions to $7,000 per election cycle, the same as individual donors. But nothing in the law prohibits multiple limited-liability companies controlled by the same individual to donate on behalf of each LLC, making it easy for wealthy donors to exceed the statutory limits. Continue Reading →
“My parents wanted me to go to college, but I was more interested in earning some money to get a car. And then one thing led to another, and then I met my wife, got married, and there was really no turning back after that,” says mill worker Rollie Leclerc. “I really like working here. It’s a place where you can earn a decent wage and kind of live the lifestyle a middle American is supposed to. You have a house and a car and a decent living.”
“You sit at home and you watch the news and you see all these people that are 50 and older and have lost their jobs, and it doesn’t really hit home because it’s not affecting you,” Leclerc says. “But boy oh, boy, I tell you what, now I totally understand the hardship of finding employment, especially being over 50 years old. Employers do look at you differently.”
After he was laid-off for the second time, Leclerc says, “I wasn’t able to find any work at all. We got by with unemployment benefits, and we watched our pennies. But it was luck that the mill reopened, because the benefits were running out. When you’re living on that kind of money compared to what I was making at the mill, your wage cut is at about 70 percent.”
“I’m one of the fortunate ones. I didn’t have a house payment. It’s the benefits. Health care is nuts. I was paying $980 a month while I was out, with a $6,000 deductible, for myself and my wife. So getting back here and having access to health care is huge,” Leclerc says.
Leclerc’s hopeful about the future of the mill, but, “This time around, it’s been a slower start-up. When we shut down in 2000, and we started up [again], all our past customers came right back,” he says. “This time around, they’re a little reluctant. So we’re gaining their trust again. But it’s a slower process than we thought.”
Although finding work in the North Country at places like Gorham Paper and Tissue is hard, Leclerc says in some ways, having an education makes it tougher. “If you happen to have a college degree, you’re limited to where you can go as far as employment, unless you’re into the medical field, a few other areas. That’s why, when our kids go to college, it’s like a farewell. They never come back. Not because they don’t like the area. No opportunity.”
As part of our weekly “Getting By, Getting Ahead” series, StateImpact is traveling across New Hampshire, gathering personal stories from the people behind the economy. In our seventh and final installment, we talk with a longtime North Country mill worker who has been laid off, and re-hired, twice.
The factory floor of Gorham Paper and Tissue is a miserable place on hot summer day. The massive cylinders noisily turning watery pulp into paper are incredibly hot, almost oven-like, except that the water passing through them creates a thick veil of humidity.
Deeper into the mill sits the small, cool, control shack that is Rollie Leclerc’s domain. He is a machine tender, and part of his job involves maintaining the balance between tons of hardwood, softwood, and pulp coursing through the machines. This blend is key to making high-quality paper. Underneath the safety glasses and steel-toed boots, Leclerc (pronounced “Leclaire”) is a good-natured guy with a big laugh and an easy smile. Leclerc has been on this mill floor since 1977. And he’s proud of his deep family roots in this line of work. Continue Reading →
With only one of its famed paper mills remaining, the North Country faces some big challenges in terms of economic development
Tomorrow on Morning Edition, NHPR will air the seventh and final installment of our summer series, “Getting By, Getting Ahead,” which focuses on the personal stories behind the economy. This week, we’ll tell the story of a third-generation North Country mill worker who has been laid-off and re-hired twice.
If you want to learn more about the decline of mills in the North Country, check out our Economic Snapshot. Or, for the condensed version, you can hear StateImpact reporter Amanda Loder’s discussion with NHPR’s All Things Considered host Brady Carlson below.
We also invite you to visit our special web feature, which includes an interactive map, economic perspectives from each of the people spotlighted in the series, and more information on each of New Hampshire’s regions. And when you visit, you’ll have an opportunity to share your story of life during the economic downturn and recovery.
The North Country has struggled economically since the closure of the paper mill in Berlin.
Tomorrow morning on NHPR, we’ll hear from Rollie Leclerc, a third-generation North Country mill worker who has been laid off and re-hired twice. Rollie’s story is the seventh and final part of our series “Getting By, Getting Ahead,” examining how people across New Hampshire’s regions are navigating a recovering economy.
Over the past few years, business news coverage coming out of the North Country has taken on a patina of predictability. A factory is closing, and dozens — or even hundreds — of unskilled workers are now jobless.
“I started building in the speculative market in 1987. My grandparents owned some property up here and decided that they wanted to sell it,” says home builder Joe Skiffington. “And I was doing renovations and construction in the Boston area. I came up to the lake and I said, you know, I wonder what selling vacation homes would be like? So I built a couple of them on spec. These were $79,900, so a far cry from what we’re doing today. But the process was fun.”
“It’s definitely gotten expensive. When we started lakefront construction–the first lakefront home I built was in 1991 or ’92–the lot was about $100,000, and construction cost was about $175,000, and we sold it for, I think, $309,000,” Skiffington says. “That was 20 years ago. Today, an entry-level product is going to be somewhere in the range of $1.8 million to $2 million to buy a new home, or have a home built on Lake Winnipesaukee.”
“I think it was a bubble in 2006 and 2007. I mean, it was just so busy, we were building seven of these $3 million to $4 million houses a year, and they were selling faster than we could build them,” Skiffington says. “People ask me, ‘When do you think it will be like it was in 2006 and 2007 again?’ And I say, ‘I really hope it doesn’t.'”
“A lot of people got into the business because they felt they just couldn’t lose,” Skiffington says. “When non-builders start building spec houses, it becomes a problem. There were too many realtors, too many builders, and then what happens is the bubble bursts and nobody makes money and everybody gets hurt. I’d like to see us maintain some sort of normalcy in a trend where price escalation is at a minimum.”
As part of our weekly “Getting By, Getting Ahead” series, StateImpact is traveling across New Hampshire, gathering personal stories from the people behind the economy. In our sixth installment, we talk with a Lakes Region home builder.
Summer is boom time on the banks of Lake Winnipesaukee. These are the months when the region’s tourist towns double or even triple in size as wealthy vacation home owners settle in for the season. But at the moment, one of these homes — a 7,000 square foot mini-mansion on Governor’s Island — remains empty.
Joe Skiffington’s company built this home back in 2008. Skiffington, 48, is a big man with a dark goatee and an easy smile. He’s part of a small community of Lakes Region developers who build high-end vacation houses — places with 22-foot high vaulted ceilings, exposed pine beams, basement saunas and amazing guest bedrooms. Upstairs, Skiffington shows off one of these guest rooms. Continue Reading →
The slowing high-end second home market didn't only affect home builders and realtors
Tomorrow on Morning Edition on NHPR, you can catch the sixth installment of our seven-part series “Getting By, Getting Ahead.” This summer, StateImpact is looking at the personal stories behind New Hampshire’s economic recovery, and how they vary by industry and region. This evening on All Things Considered, host Brady Carlson spoke with reporter Amanda Loder about how the Lakes Region‘s high-end vacation home bubble affected not only developers and wealthy tourists, but also year-round residents.