Spring 2013

July 6th, 2013 by Daniel Lee

Tourism Boost Recovery

In Spring 2013, there were encouraging signs in the economy. The Coos Index rose from Winter 2013. This quarterly increase from prior season was the first time since summer 2010. On a quarterly year-over-year basis, while the Index continued to decline, the pace of declines decreased for the second consecutive quarters. Two of five component indicators turned up from Winter 2013. The boost came from the tourism industry. The better-than-average snow season rejuvenated the North Country’s winter sports industry, particularly skiing and snowmobiling. The increase in the tourism activity was huge, particularly when compared to Spring 2012, which was one of the warmest springs in recent memory. As a result, the labor market was much stronger; the number of employed residents increased by the fastest rate that had not been seen since the Great Recession began. The housing market continued its recovery, while there were some signs that the housing market rebound might be slowing.

The overall picture of the State’s economy looked more positive in spring 2013 than in winter 2013, although it still remained far from being a vibrant economy that everyone has been waiting for. Although at a crawling pace, the revised State Index did increase for the 11th consecutive quarters on a quarterly year-over-year basis. Four of five component indicators turned up compared to a year ago. The largest contribution came from the tourism industry. Snowy March and April brought businesses to the state’s ski and snowmobile industry. Spending for lodging was up from Spring 2012. The labor market showed encouraging signs as well; the pace of increases in the number of employed residents rose for the first time since Winter 2012 on a quarterly year-over-year basis. In addition, leading indicators for the state of New Hampshire seem to indicate a brighter economy ahead; three of the four state leading indicators remained up. The state’s housing market remained on the rebound as well; the median home price increased at a rate faster than Winter 2013, while the pace of increases in the volume of home sales slowed two quarters in a row.

Winter 2013

April 2nd, 2013 by Daniel Lee

Economic Recovery Losing Steam?

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.

Fall 2012

January 5th, 2013 by Daniel Lee

Stalling New Hampshire’s Economy

In Fall 2012, the Coos Index fell for seven quarters in a row on a quarterly year-over-year basis. The pace of decline resumed acceleration after slowing in Spring and Summer 2012. Four of five component indicators were down from a year ago. The number of employed residents, average Saturday traffic counts, estimated rooms and meals revenue and industrial electricity sales all decreased from prior year, while estimated wages and salaries of covered employment were up. On a positive note, the housing market continued to rebound strongly; home sales increased three quarters in a row on a quarterly year-over-year basis and median home prices rose four consecutive quarters.

In Fall 2012, the State economy remained on a long-term growth path. However, recent developments were worrisome. The revised State Index stalled at 96.2 for two consecutive quarters. Particularly worrisome was the labor market; both the number of employed residents and estimated wages and salaries were down from Summer 2012. In addition, all four leading indicators for the state economy turned down in November 2012. Although it’s too early to tell whether the changes in the leading indicators signal a change in the underlying trend, they, together with the sluggish labor market, seem to be indicative of an increasingly vulnerable state of the economy in New Hampshire. On a positive note, the hospitality industry kept the economy afloat; both estimated rooms and meals receipts and average Saturday traffic counts were up from a year ago. In addition, the state’s housing market continued a strong rebound; home sales rose five quarters in a row and median home prices were higher than summer 2012.

Summer 2012

September 30th, 2012 by Daniel Lee

Aside from the BALSAMS, Summer 2012 provided a glimpse of hope.

 

We are glad to come back to you with a new-look NCEI with improved coverage of the region’s economy. This new issue has three changes; 1) a student–created report has been added to complement the data-driven report and to provide a more comprehensive view of the county’s economy; 2) a new section of leading indicators has been added for New Hampshire to provide a sense of future economic conditions; and 3) the report will now be published quarterly. Ryan Bernier, a Plymouth State senior majoring in Sociology, spent the summer in Coos County, attending events, observing the local economy in action, and interviewing community and business leaders. He’ll be sharing his experiences here and in future issues of the NCEI. We appreciate all of you making your valuable time available and sharing your experience with Ryan.

In Summer 2012, the Coos economy showed signs of encouragement. Although the Coos Index fell for the 6th consecutive quarter on a quarterly year-over-year basis, much of the decline had to do with the temporary closure of the BALSAMS. This weighed on the local economy, particularly in the Colebrook area. Aside from the BALSAMS, however, there are signs of improvement. The labor market improved; both the number of employed residents and their estimated wages and salaries were up from a year ago. Average Saturday traffic counts in Jefferson and Northumberland were up from the prior year, indicative of an increase in travelers to the region.

In Summer 2012, the State Index fell for the first time since the end of the past recession on a quarterly year-over-year basis. Particularly worrisome was the labor market; both the number of employed residents and estimated wages and salaries were down from Spring. The hospitality industry struggled as well; both estimated rooms and meals receipts and average Saturday traffic counts were down from a year ago. The manufacturing industry chugged along; industrial electricity sales inched up from a year ago. Meanwhile, the state-level leading indicators suggest a mixed view of future economic conditions.

May 2012

June 1st, 2012 by Daniel Lee

State economy losing steam

 

I’d like to make a brief announcement about an upcoming change in the North Country Economic Index (NCEI) project. In an attempt to better cover the region’s economy and contribute to its revitalization, a new section will be added to the NCEI. This new section will be written by a student, who will report stories and episodes happening in the region. Occasionally, the student will introduce best practices in rural economic development in other parts of the country as well. In order to better coordinate this student effort, we decided to move the report to quarterly from monthly. With this change, the NCEI will be 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). The first issue of the new look NCEI will be out in September. There won’t be another report until then.

In April, the Coos Index fell for the 12th consecutive month on a monthly year-over-year basis. The percentage decline was the largest since 2009, and the pace of the decline was accelerating. All five indicators fell on a monthly year-over-year basis. The declines in some of the indicators may be attributed to the temporary closure of BALSAMS. Although the decline of the economic activity in the County had been observed even before the Resort’s closure, it certainly made it worse. The unusually warm weather and the premature ending of the ski season did not help the tourism industry either. Estimated rooms and meals revenues fell three months in a row on a monthly year-over-year basis; and average Saturday traffic counts declined 14 consecutive months.

In April, the State economy continued to grow for nearly two years. But there were increasing signs that the state economy might be losing steam. Although still growing on a monthly year-over-year basis, on a month-to-month basis did the growth of the Index come to a halt after steady declines since past December. Three of five component indicators fell below from a year ago. This is consistent with other economic data. The New Hampshire Employment Security reported that the number of jobs fell in April compared to a year ago; and the job losses are broad based across all but a few industries.  In addition, the Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank showed in its state coincident indicators that the economic growth had been slowing in New Hampshire since February 2011, while the growth of the national economy had picked up the pace during the same period. It also showed that New Hampshire’s economy didn’t grow as fast as some of its neighbors in New England for the past three months – Vermont, Massachusetts and Connecticut. Does this mean that New Hampshire is leading the nation to double dip recession or following the nation to recovery? It’ll be interesting to find it out.

The real estate market analysis can be found at the end of this report.

April 2012

April 30th, 2012 by Daniel Lee

A regional economic divide within the county

 

In March, the Coos Index fell for the 11th consecutive month on a monthly year-over-year basis. The percentage decline was the largest since October 2009. All five indicators fell on a monthly year-over-year basis. The tourism industry continued to suffer from the unusually warm weather, which ended the ski season early. The manufacturing sector showed no signs of rebound from the recent plunge. However, not all regions within the county are equally affected by the county’s economic woes. The NH Economic and Labor Market Information Bureau’s Quarterly Census of Employment and wages indicates a clear divide in economic performance between the two major labor market areas (LMA) within the County – Berlin and Colebrook. Unlike its neighbors in the County, Colebrook was up from the pre-recession level in terms of employment and number of worksites as of 3rd quarter 2011. From 3rd quarter 2007 to 3rd quarter 2011, total employment rose by 1.3% in the Colebrook LMA, while it fell by more than 15% in the Berlin LMA. During the same period, the number of worksites rose in the Colebrook LMA by 3.3%, while it fell by 5.1% in the Berlin LMA. Since the Berlin LMA is about three times larger than its Colebrook counterpart in terms of employment, its struggle manifests itself in the county-wide economic indicators. The Colebrook labor market area, the northernmost LMA, includes Colebrook, Stewartstown, Pittsburg, Columbia, Clarksville and Dixville, while the Berlin LMA includes Berlin, Gorham, Milan and other small towns.

In March, the State economy continued to grow at a meager pace. The economic growth stalled at a measly 0.8% for past four months. The state’s employers appeared to add jobs at a much slower pace; the growth of the number of employed residents slowed to a crawl on a month-to-month basis. The manufacturing sector remained a major drag on the recovery; industrial electricity sales fell six months in a row on a monthly year-over-year basis. The economy remained vulnerable.

The real estate market analysis can be found at the end of this report.

March 2012

April 1st, 2012 by Daniel Lee

Warm Weather Dampened the Tourism Industry

 

In February, the Coos Index fell for the 10th consecutive month on a monthly year-over-year basis. The percentage decline was the largest since October 2009. All four available indicators fell on a monthly year-over-year basis. The unusually warm weather dampened the expansion of the tourism industry. Estimated rooms and meals revenues, the only indicator that is up from the pre-recession level, declined for the first time since November 2009 on a monthly year-over-year basis. The manufacturing sector continued to struggle; industrial electricity sales fell nine months in a row. The labor market showed no signs of sustained improvement; both number of employed residents and estimated wages and salaries remained down from prior year. Data on Saturday traffic counts has not been released since the last year.  The New Hampshire Department of Transportation explained that they were experiencing some technical difficulties with the traffic recording equipment. The Index was computed assuming no change in Saturday vehicle traffic counts from last December.

The revised data, after the New Hampshire Department of Employment Security’s annual benchmarking activities, showed that the strength of the State economy’s recovery had not been as strong as previously reported. In February, the State Index grew eighteen months in a row on a monthly year-over-year basis. But the pace of the growth ticked down for the second month in a row. The labor market grew but showed some signs of strain; number of employed residents increased on a monthly year-over-year basis, but its pace of growth declined for the first time since May 2011. Although it’s still too early to tell, the decline in the growth is worrisome considering that the level of employment still remained below the prerecession level and the current growth rate was only 1% compared to 1.9% at the peak of the 2001-2007 expansion. The manufacturing sector remained a major drag on the recovery; industrial electricity sales fell five months in a row on a monthly year-over-year basis. The housing sector, despite the increasing volume of home sales, was yet to see a turnaround in home prices. The sustainable recovery entails a boost from the broader economy.

The real estate market analysis can be found at the end of this report.

February 2012

February 26th, 2012 by Daniel Lee

There won’t be a report this month due to a delay in the release of the county employment data, which is a key component indicator of the Index. According to the New Hampshire Employment Security, January county employment data is scheduled to be released on March 15 due to the annual benchmarking activity. The county employment data usually becomes available within a month after the end of the report month.

January 2012

February 1st, 2012 by Daniel Lee

Things looking up for New Hampshire in 2012

 

In December, the Coos Index fell for the eighth month in a row on a monthly year-over-year basis. The pace of decline was the largest since 2009. Four of five component indicators were down from where they stood a year ago. The labor market continued to struggle; both number of employed residents and estimated wages and salaries were down from a year ago. Particularly, struggles of the manufacturing industry were eye-catching; industrial electricity sales fell by a double-digit for the first time in two years on a monthly year-over-year basis. Even the lone bright spot, the hospitality industry showed signs of slowing; estimated rooms and meals revenues grew at slowest pace since June 2010. Average Saturday vehicle traffic counts fell ten months in a row.

In December, the State economy ended the year strong despite some concerns. The State Index grew sixteen months in a row on a monthly year-over-year basis. The economic growth accelerated for the second month in a row after falling seven straight months. Particularly encouraging is the labor market; the year-over-year growth of the number of employed residents grew at an increasingly faster pace for the fourth month in a row, while estimated wages and salaries exhibited a similar pattern. The leisure and tourism industry contributed to the strong finish as well; estimated rooms and meals revenues expanded for the 13th straight month on a monthly year-over-year basis. However, all is not good for the state economy. The manufacturing continued to drag; industrial electricity sales fell three consecutive months on a monthly year-over-year basis. In addition, the housing sector remains a threat. Despite rebounding sales, free-falling home prices have yet to show any signs of a turnaround. All in all, chances of a double-dip recession that was increasingly likely a few months ago seemed to be waning with 2011.

The real estate market analysis can be found at the end of this report.

December 2011

December 30th, 2011 by Daniel Lee

No recovery within sight for Coos economy

In November, the Coos Index fell for the sixth month in a row on a monthly year-over-year basis, hitting the lowest point since the beginning of the latest recession. The recovery, which started since the mid-2009, lost steam in the second half of 2011. The downward trend is increasingly apparent in all but one component indicator; four out of five component indicators had persistently decreased in recent months on a year-over-year basis. The goods-producing activity, mostly manufacturing, were in decline; industrial electricity sales had decreased at an increasingly faster pace since May on a monthly year-over-year basis. The labor market never recovered from the latest recession; neither number of employed residents nor estimated wages and salaries had registered a year-over-year gain in 2011. The hospitality industry had been better off than other industries; estimated rooms and meals revenues surpassed the pre-recession level and kept rising, although average Saturday traffic counts remained stagnant. This New Year may be a better one, though, considering encouraging news from the Gorham area, such as the biomass plant construction and the reopened paper mill.

The economic recovery gained momentum in the State. The revised data showed that economic growth picked up pace for the first time since March on a monthly year-over-year basis. Three of five component indicators were up from prior year. The labor market continued to rebound; the monthly year-over-year growth rate of number of employed residents rose three months in a row after falling four straight months. However, the aggregate employment data may paint the picture better than it actually is. New Hampshire Employment Security reported that nearly half of the increase in jobs in November came from the accommodation and food services industry, where many jobs tend to be part-time. On the other hand, the higher-paying manufacturing industry lost jobs. This is consistent with one of the NCEI component indicators, industrial electricity sales, which declined two months in a row on a monthly year-over-year basis.  The picture in the hospitality industry was mixed; estimated rooms and meals revenues posted a strong gain from a year earlier, while average Saturday traffic counts continued to decline.

The real estate market analysis can be found at the end of this report.