EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

November 12, 2013

N.H. employment approaches 2008 levels

Economic forecast: Pre-recession employment expected by spring

By John Toole

---- — A new economic forecast predicts New Hampshire will see employment match pre-recession levels by May.

The forecast will be presented today during an economic outlook conference at the Federal Reserve Bank in Boston.

“New Hampshire will most likely be the third state in New England to recover the jobs lost in the Great Recession, with the state hitting its pre-recession peak in the spring of 2014,” economist Dennis Delay said.

Delay earlier this year said New Hampshire has lagged Massachusetts and Vermont in the recovery.

“Job growth in the New Hampshire recovery remains slow,” Delay said. “New Hampshire had 650,000 non-farm jobs in 2008, as the recession began taking hold, and the state will not see that many jobs again until May 2014.”

The study reflects what has happened locally with the recovery.

“That squares with what we’re seeing here,” said William Parnell, president of the Greater Derry Londonderry Chamber of Commerce. “It has not been as rapid as I would like to see. I still think we need to deal with the widening of Interstate 93 to break this open.”

The economic improvement is showing up in projects before local regulatory boards.

“We are seeing lots of new activity,” Salem planning director Ross Moldoff said.

Moldoff, in a report to Town Manager Keith Hickey in September, said the Planning Board had reviewed nearly 40 commercial projects this year.

The New England Economic Partnership produced the economic forecasts.

Delay, an economist with the New Hampshire Center for Public Policy Studies, is the group’s New Hampshire forecast chairman.

The forecast predicts New Hampshire will lose 0.4 percent of its manufacturing jobs annually for the next five years, but manufacturing output will increase.

The study projects a 2.0 percent annual increase in private services sector employment, driven by growth in professional and business services, leisure and hospitality, education and health fields.

The study concludes the New Hampshire real estate market has seen a return to normal price appreciation and sales growth, with a decline in foreclosures.

The rental house market also remains strong, with rents leveling and vacancies below 5 percent in most areas, the report concludes.

Delay will underscore Boston’s importance to the New Hampshire economy during remarks today.

“Thousands of New Hampshire residents work at jobs in the Greater Boston area, choosing to pay the Massachusetts personal income tax in order to avail themselves of higher wage jobs in Massachusetts, while enjoying a New Hampshire lifestyle,” he said.

Parnell has seen several recessions, but doesn’t think this one seemed as bad as the late 1980s recession that led to bank closures in New Hampshire.

But someone’s perspective can be shaped by how the economy hits them, he said.

“When you’re in the middle, it feels like it takes forever to get out,” Parnell said.