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November 4, 2013

Study sees N.H. economy among nation's best

Concerns include housing and student debt

A new study concludes New Hampshire’s economy ranks among the best for states, but flags some areas of concern for policymakers.

“Many of the indicators where New Hampshire excels — including homeownership rates, education levels, and size of the science and engineering workforce — reflect past or current conditions,” the New Hampshire Center for Public Policy Studies said. “On the other hand, in more ‘future-oriented’ measurements — average student debt, the change in the 35- to 44-year-old share of the population, housing costs, and the rate of college-going among high school graduates — New Hampshire fares quite poorly.”

Those also matter for economic success, the center said.

“These measures are directly linked to the state’s ability to attract and retain young people and arm them with the skills needed to compete for good jobs in coming years, and thus are of vital importance to the future of the state’s economy and quality of life,” the study said.

The Business and Industry Association paid for the study.

In an analysis of broad economic indicators such as education, fiscal policy, resources and energy, New Hampshire ranked 11th overall.

Regionally it lagged Massachusetts, which ranked eighth, but ahead of Vermont at 24 and Maine at 38.

New Hampshire also did well against four states — North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia — deemed “competitor” states. Only Virginia ranked ahead of New Hampshire at No. 9.

But the study put New Hampshire near the bottom for many measures of business costs, including industrial electric prices, corporate tax rate, health-care costs and land use restrictions.

The study asked leaders to ponder a key question about New Hampshire’s overall ranking.

“What policies and trends (current and/or past) helped drive this advantage, and what new policies might be necessary to preserve or even build on it?” the report said.

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