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Residential Department: Spotlight: New Hampshire: January 2018


Spotlight: New Hampshire

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 5 percent.

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.

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Home sales and prices

r_2018-01_Spotlight_chart-1Housing 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.


Between April 2009 and September 2011, during the Great Recession and its immediate aftermath, the U.S. unemployment rate never dropped below 9 percent, and spiked as high as 10 percent in October 2009. As of this past October, the national unemployment rate was 4.1 percent.

By contrast, during the Great Recession era, New Hampshire’s unemployment rate never rose above 6.6 percent, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data show. As of this past October, the state’s unemployment rate stood at 2.7 percent, 1.4 percentage points below the national rate. A New Hampshire state government study projects that through 2022, employment gains are expected in every sector other than manufacturing. Health care will be the big winner, accounting for nearly 30 percent of all news jobs over the 10 years ending in 2022.

Delinquencies and foreclosures

r_2018-01_Spotlight_chart-2As of this past August, the percentage of all mortgages in some stage of foreclosure stood at 0.76 percent nationally, according to the Black Knight Mortgage Monitor. For New Hampshire, the foreclosure rate as of the same period was even lower, at 0.4 percent. The state also recorded a 3.6 percent mortgage delinquency rate this past August, according to the report, compared to the national mark of 3.9 percent. A report by CoreLogic states that, as of July 2017, the foreclosure rate nationally had hit a 10-year low.

Foreclosure activity (as measured by auctions and real estate owned) is down significantly in New Hampshire since first-quarter 2012, when there were 2,271 filings, according to Attom Data Solutions. Foreclosure filings in third-quarter 2017 registered at 444, an 80 percent decrease from first-quarter 2012.

Sources: Boston Globe, CoreLogic, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis,, National Association of Manufacturers, National Shooting Sports Foundation, New Hampshire Association of Realtors, New Hampshire Business Review, New Hampshire College & University Council, New Hampshire Employment Security, New Hampshire High Tech Council, New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority, New Hampshire Public Radio, New Hampshire Union Leader, New Hampshire Works, The Computing Technology Industry Association, U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Department of Labor, U.S. News and World Report, UNH Today

3 Cities to Watch


Home to the University of New Hampshire, which has an undergraduate enrollment of some 13,000 students, Durham was settled originally in 1669 and later incorporated in 1732, likely in honor of a Puritan bishop. The college town boasts a $30 million mixed-use development known as Madbury Commons located in the heart of downtown that includes student housing and a major university technology lab. The median listing price for a home in Durham this past September was $365,000, reports.


r_2018-01_Spotlight_city-2The largest city in New Hampshire with a population of 110,000, Manchester is located along the Merrimack River some 50 miles north of Boston. It was once home to the world’s largest textile mill complex. Today, Manchester’ revitalized mill district has been converted into a thriving business park with a heavy technology focus, and the city’s economy is now recognized for its diversity. The median listing price for a home in the city this past September was $230,000, according to


The capital of New Hampshire since 1808, Concord was originally settled by Native Americans thousands of years ago. Its state capitol building, unveiled in 1819, is the oldest in the nation in which the legislators still meet in their original chambers. Concord also is recognized as a cultural center, boasting the Capital Center for the Arts, the Granite State Symphony Orchestra and the Red River Theatres, among other venues. reports that the median listing price for a home in Concord this past September was $230,000.

What the locals say

“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.”


Steve Thayer  
Senior loan officer
Fairway Independent Mortgage Corp.


Bill Conroy is editor in chief of Scotsman Guide Media. Reach him at (800) 297-6061 or

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