EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

New Hampshire

May 26, 2013

N.H. trails Mass. in economic recovery

New Hampshire is trailing the nation and Massachusetts in the economic recovery.

Far from the robust turnaround the Granite State is used to experiencing, one economist describes the state’s recovery as “lackluster.”

Dennis Delay, who participated in a regional economic forum hosted by the Federal Reserve in Boston last week, said job growth is averaging just 1 percent annually, down from the 4 to 6 percent seen after the recessions of the 1980s and 1990s.

“The New Hampshire economy is recovering, but the recovery has been disappointing,” said Delay, an economist with the New Hampshire Center for Public Policy Studies.

Delay characterizes the recovery as “lackluster” by New Hampshire standards.

Unemployment is improving — about 5.5 percent from 6.7 percent at the depths of the recession, he said.

“Even at 5.5 percent, that’s still 2 percent above what would be the normal unemployment rate in an economy firing on all cylinders,” Delay said. “It’s not great, frankly.”

This isn’t typical.

“Historically, New Hampshire has grown faster out of a recession,” said Community College System of New Hampshire chancellor Ross Gittell, an economist who participated in last week’s forum.

Rather than setting the pace for New England, this time around, New Hampshire is trailing Massachusetts and Vermont, he said.

Delay expects New Hampshire won’t approach its pre-recession employment, about 650,000, until the middle of next year. Massachusetts already has more jobs than before the recession; Vermont is expected to get there this year.

A Federal Reserve analysis for the first quarter of this year saw the job picture improving regionally.

“The region’s employment situation continued to improve through the first two months of 2013, with all New England states reporting year-over-year employment growth,” the Fed concluded.

“However, Massachusetts was the only state in the region to experience stronger year-over-year growth than the United States (1.8 percent versus 1.5 percent),” the analysis said.

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