By Bill Conroy
What the locals say
The Granite State’s economy is rock solid.
New Hampshire, also known as the Granite State, is only 190 miles long
north to south and some 50 miles wide, with a population of 1.33 million.
The state packs a potent economic punch, however, despite its small geographic size. One of the original 13 colonies, New Hampshire was originally
reliant on its forests and rivers to supply an economy dependent on paper
and grain mills.
That era, however, has long past, and today the Granite State has a diversified economy fed by technology, smart manufacturing and health care
businesses and jobs. Those three industry clusters account for more than
30 percent of New Hampshire’s gross domestic product (GDP).
Among the products the state produces are computer and electronic
equipment, communication systems, fabricated metal products as well as
software, computer networking and cybersecurity applications. The Granite
State’s health care industry is fed by three major sectors: ambulatory health
care, hospitals and long-term care facilities such as nursing homes. In fact,
New Hampshire earned the No. 2 spot, behind Massachusetts, in U.S. News
and World Report’s 2017 Best States ranking, earning high marks in health
care, education and economic opportunity.
The state also is home to a vibrant gun-manufacturing industry that includes
major gunmakers Sturm, Ruger & Co. Inc. and Sig Sauer Inc. An estimated 6,000 jobs are tied to the state’s gun industry, according to a report by
the National Shooting Sports Foundation. New Hampshire’s 22 public and
private colleges and universities, including the flagship University of New
Hampshire, have an estimated $6 billion impact on the state’s economy, a
2016 report from the New Hampshire College & University Council states.
New Hampshire also boasts one of the highest median household-income
marks in the nation, among the lowest unemployment rates and a robust
GDP growth rate — 3 percent in 2016, compared to the national rate of
1.5 percent — U.S. Department of Commerce figures show. The state’s
median household income in 2016 was $76,260, compared to $59,039
nationally, according to Federal Reserve Bank figures. New Hampshire’s 2016
unemployment rate remained under 3 percent the entire year, compared
to a national rate for the period that hovered between 4. 6 percent and
New Hampshire, however, also has one of the oldest populations in the
nation. A recent story in the New Hampshire Union Leader newspaper points
out that one-third of the state’s residents will be over the age of 65 within
12 years. Another report, sponsored by the New Hampshire Department of
Resources and Economic Development, refers to this aging population as a
“silver tsunami.” The report points out that as more and more baby boomers
in New Hampshire continue to retire, it will lead to a decrease in the supply
of available workers statewide. n
Home sales and prices
Housing has rebounded in New Hampshire over the past decade,
with prices and sales now exceeding prerecession levels. Home sales
jumped by 12 percent in 2015 and the median sales price increased by
5. 5 percent. The following year, residential sales jumped 8. 7 percent,
hitting 17,567 unit sales, the most since the New Hampshire Association
of Realtors (NHAR) began tracking the data in 1998. The median sales price
increased 3. 3 percent in 2016, to $249,500, the highest mark since 2007.
The year-to-date median home sales price as of this past September
clocked in at $265,000, NHAR reports.
The state’s booming housing market now faces a shortage of available
inventory, however. That has sparked a housing-affordability problem
for many would-be buyers, according to the New Hampshire Housing
Finance Authority. Homes for sale have higher prices, reflecting a lack
of entry-level housing, while the rental market also is defined by tight
inventory and rising rents.
New Hampshire Home Sales
Source: New Hampshire Realtors
Single-family homes sold Median sales price
*Y TD through September 2017
Senior loan officer,
Fairway Independent Mortgage Corp.
“Depending on the town, I’ve seen land priced at $100,000 an
acre to $350,000 an acre in certain areas. And you can’t put a
$100,000 home on a $300,000 lot. ... The older population is driving a lot of what is going on because they are downsizing and
selling their $600,000 and $700,000 homes and paying cash for
a $200,000 house, and that is displacing first-time homebuyers.”