The State’s economy grew stronger in Summer 2013. The pace of growth in the State Index accelerated for the second quarter in a row. All five component indicators turned up from the prior year. The tourism sector led the way for the state’s economy. More travelers came, and spent more money. The labor market seems to be getting stronger as well; the pace of growth in the number of employed residents accelerated for the second consecutive quarters on a year-over-year basis, and wages and salaries increased four straight quarters. Leading indicators, however, suggested that the state’s economy was not yet on a strong footing. Only two of the four state leading indicators remained up; inverted initial unemployment claims and weekly work hours were up, while building permits of single family homes and new business formation were down. The state’s housing market continued to expand, although there were signs that the boom was nearing its peak.
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.
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.