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.
The state’s economic growth accelerated. The State Index increased for the 23rd straight quarter on a year-over-year basis. The pace of growth accelerated for the fifth quarter in a row. Four out of the five component indicators were up compared to the same period in 2015. The accelerating economic growth was most evident in the scorching labor market. The employment indicator of the State Index grew at the fastest pace since the beginning of the Great Recession. The U.S. BLS data confirms this: the seasonally adjusted number of employed residents was at the highest in May 2016 since at least 1974 when its current data started. Not only that, the pace of the increases had accelerated since the beginning of this year. The number of jobs is also at the record high: the U.S. BLS reports that the state had 661,000 jobs in May 2016, which is the highest monthly record ever. The tourism industry remained strong, although its counterpart in the northern regions suffered from the bad weather. The average Saturday vehicle traffic counts increased by 4.0% on a year-over-year basis, while the inflation-adjusted rooms and meals tax increased by 7.4%. However, the manufacturing industry continued to struggle: industrial electricity sales fell six straight quarters on a year-over-year basis. The unfavorable global environment continued to be an obstacle to the industry’s international exports. The state’s economy will likely stay strong in the near future: three of four state leading indicators were up compared to six months ago in their year-over-year growth rate. The state’s housing market remained strong; the volume of home sales increased six straight quarters at an increasingly fast pace on a year-over-year basis and median home prices rose 14 straight quarters.