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The Economic Outlook for New Hampshire in 2005-2006: Growth Despite Challenges

By Dennis Delay, Economist and Director of Special Projects, Workforce Opportunity Council, Inc.

Noting the considerable declines in New Hampshire’s manufacturing and high tech workforce over the last few years, we now see that, despite the challenges posed by the state’s current and projected economic condition, there is evidence of stability and even growth in both industries. Total non-farm jobs in the state are projected to grow at an annual rate of 1.6 percent over the forecast period, compared to an annual growth rate of 0.7 percent from 1999-2004. Gross state product in the state is projected at a 3.6 percent rate of growth from 2004-2009, consistent with the actual growth rate of 1999-2004.

High tech employment has bounced back and job growth in New Hampshire’s high-tech industry has outpaced that of other tech-heavy states. High tech employment in New Hampshire jumped more than 9 percent between October 2003 and June 2004, the latest month for which data were available. The job bounce is welcome after a sharp, three-year-decline in Granite State high–tech employment between 2000 and 2003, a period during which New Hampshire lost more than one-third of its technology jobs.

Addressing the NEEP spring conference theme, “Demographics and Development: What is New England’s Destiny?,” I noted that one of the greatest challenges facing the state is meeting the rising knowledge and skill needs of our employers. Over time there has been growth in jobs demanding high levels of education and skill and a decline in jobs requiring lower levels of education and skill. Even low skill jobs now require a much higher level of basic skills than in the past. Consequently, it will be critical to align employment, education and training services to ensure that New Hampshire’s young people, as well as adults currently in the labor force, are prepared for a changing economy.

About the Author
Dennis Delay is the Director of Special Projects at the Workforce Opportunity Council, Inc., Concord, NH. He also serves as New Hampshire Forecast Manager for the New England Economic Partnership (NEEP). Mr. Delay has a 30 year record of success in economic development, workforce development, policy analysis, forecasting, regional business expertise, and public speaking. He can be reached at (603) 229-3307 or e-mail ddelay@nhworkforce.org.

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