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.

April 2011

May 1st, 2011 by Daniel Lee

Economic growth slows

In March, although continuing its long-term course to recovery, the Coos economy grew at a rate slower than it did in February. More telling may be easing growth in the manufacturing and hospitality industry, both of which had been an engine of the county’s economic recovery since the end of recession. The year-over-year growth rate of industrial electricity sales had slowed steadily since November. A similar pattern was observed in estimated rooms and meals revenues. Furthermore, the average Saturday vehicle traffic counts dipped below the level seen a year ago for the first time since September. The labor market continued to show a mixed picture. Number of employed residents was down from where it was a year ago, while estimated wages and salaries were up.

The State economy continued its course to recovery. All five component indicators remained up from a year earlier. Its growth rate had inched up steadily since August. The improving labor market led economic recovery in March. Both number of employed residents and estimated wages and salaries grew at an increasing pace. On a more cautionary note, though, there were some signs of slowing in the manufacturing and hospitality industry. Industrial electricity sales fell from prior month, although it remained up from where it was a year earlier. So did both indicators of the hospitality industry – estimated rooms and meals revenues and average Saturday vehicle traffic counts. It remains to be seen whether they were just a temporary statistical fluke or the beginning of a new slump in the industry. In addition, the struggling housing industry remains a trouble spot of the economy.

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

April 2010

April 26th, 2010 by Daniel Lee

Recovery gains momentum.

In March, the Coos economy exhibited strong signs of improvement. The Coos Coincident Index advanced three months in a row, contributed by all but one indicator that makes up the index. The number of employed residents continued to increase, indicating the improving labor market. Industrial electricity sales rebounded sharply, pointing to an increase in production activity in the county. Home sales soared as the federal tax credit draw in buyers before its expiration in April. The picture in the hospitality industry was mixed; rooms and meals revenues fell while the average Saturday traffic counts were up.

On the other hand, the State economy still is digging itself out of recession. Although the New Hampshire Coincident Index did manage to inch up two months in a row, the increase was weak. A plunge in rooms and meals revenues was responsible for this feeble increase in the Index, partially offsetting gains in other sectors. The number of employed residents advanced, indicating the rebounding labor market. Industrial electricity sales jumped sharply, suggesting that the State’s production activity is back on the rise again after a brief interruption caused by the windstorm. A rebound in home sales points to a relief in the housing market, thanks to the federal tax credit.