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.

May 2011

May 31st, 2011 by Daniel Lee

Rising Energy Costs May Be Slowing Recovery.

In April, the Coos economy continued to show signs of slowing recovery. Although the Index advanced twelve straight months on a monthly year-over-year basis, its growth rate has slowed two consecutive months. Slowing growth was felt on individual sectors as well. The manufacturing sector, which had been one of the few brightest spots of the Coos Economy since the Great Recession, saw its growth rate edging down steadily since November on a monthly year-over-year basis. The rebounding hospitality sector, while doing better than prior year, appeared to have reached a plateau. Average Saturday traffic counts retreated two straight months on a monthly year-over-year basis, while the growth rate of the estimated rooms and meals revenue remained flat since October. High gas prices, along with an increasingly probable double dip in the real estate market, threatened the fledgling economic recovery.

The State economy fared better. All five component indicators remained up from a year earlier. Its growth rate had inched up steadily since August. The labor market continued to improve; the number of employed residents kept climbing up at a faster clip on a monthly year-over-year basis. However, there were some preliminary signs of slowing in the manufacturing and hospitality industry. Growth in industrial electricity sales appeared to have reached a plateau since last year on a monthly year-over-year basis. Similarly, growth in average Saturday traffic counts had steadily declined since last year on a monthly year-over-year basis. High energy costs may be taking a toll on the economy. The struggling housing sector, which appeared to head for deeper troubles, is another reason for concern.

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

May 2010

June 1st, 2010 by Daniel Lee

Recovery gains momentum.

In April, the Coos Coincident Index advanced for four months in a row. But, only three of six component indicators contributed to the increase. On the positive note, industrial electricity sales remained strong, pointing to the revitalizing production activity in the county. The estimated rooms and meals revenues rebounded sharply, while the estimated wage and salary disbursements kept expanding. On the negative note, the number of employed residents fell back after advancing three months in a row, suggesting a yet fragile revival of the labor market. Home sales unexpectedly dropped before the end of the federal tax credit program. The average Saturday vehicle traffic counts contracted, painting a mixed picture on the hospitality industry.

On the other hand, the State economy exhibited vivid signs of improvements. The New Hampshire Coincident Index expanded three months in a row. All but one component indicator contributed to the increase. The number of employed residents advanced four months in a row, indicating the steadily improving labor market. Home sales soared thanks to the federal tax credit. Both rooms and meals revenues and Saturday vehicle traffic counts advanced, signaling the reviving State’s hospitality industry. However, industrial electricity sales took a step backward after posting a solid gain in March, suggesting that the recovery in the State’s manufacturing sector is still fragile.