The North Country Economic Index (NCEI) is a quarterly economic report to gauge the performance of the economy in the northern rural New Hampshire, which currently includes Coös County. The NCEI is released four times a year – in March for Winter (December, January and February), in June for Spring (March, April and May), in September for Summer (June, July and August), and in December for Autumn (September, October and November).
NCEI also tracks the economic performance of the State of New Hampshire for the purposes of comparison. Posting county and state indicators side by side makes it clear how the county’s economy fares in comparison to the state’s economy. This State Index is constructed using the same methodology and component indicators used in the construction of the County Index so that the two Indexes can be directly comparable.
In Winter 2013, the Coos Index fell for the eighth quarter in a row on a quarterly year-over-year basis. All five component indicators were down from a year ago. On a positive note, the pace of declines slowed for the first time in a year. The hospitality sector, which had been on a downward trend in the wake of the closure of the BALSAMS, may have bottomed out. Spending on accommodations by travelers was up from the prior quarter for the first time since summer 2011. Economic activity declined in the goods-producing sector; industrial electricity sales continued to fall by a double-digit figure. The labor market indicators, which measure the performance of the broader economy, continued to struggle; both number of employed residents and estimated wages and salaries declined on a quarterly year-over-year basis.
In Winter 2013, the State’s economic recovery remained sluggish. The revised State Index inched down for the first time on a quarterly year-over-year basis since the Great Recession ended. Three of the five component indicators turned down compared to a year ago. The hospitality sector struggled; both spending on accommodations by travelers and average Saturday traffic counts were down from a year ago. The signs of the sluggish labor market had become clearer every quarter; the growth of the number of employed residents nearly came to a halt after four consecutive quarters of steady declines, while estimated wages and salaries already started declining. On positive notes, economic activity in the goods-producing sector was strong; industrial electricity sales continued to climb on a quarterly year-over-year basis. The state’s housing market remained on the rebound as well; the median home price turned up for the first time since Fall 2010 on a quarterly year-over-year basis. In addition, three of the four leading indicators were up, which may suggest that the decline in the State Index in winter 2013 is more of a sign of the vulnerability of the state’s current economic conditions rather than an imminent recession.