Spring 2016

July 10th, 2016 by Daniel Lee

Bad Weather, Tourism, and the North Country

The past winter’s unfavorable weather continued to weigh on the County’s tourism industry during Spring 2016. As a result, the County’s overall economy struggled: the Coos Index ticked down 0.1% from Winter 2016. The tourism industry’s strong growth came to a halt as the region’s winter sports and outdoor recreational activity plummeted due to the bad weather. The rooms and meals tax fell from the prior quarter for the first time in two years. The goods-producing sector failed to build a momentum: the industrial electricity sales fell on a year-over-year basis after increasing in Winter 2016 for the first time in nearly two years. On a positive note, the County’s housing market remained strong; the volume of home sales grew for the sixth quarter in a row on a year-over-year basis, and its median home price increased three straight quarters.

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.

Spring 2015

June 26th, 2015 by Daniel Lee

New Hampshire’s Economy Surpasses Pre-Recession Level

The Coos economy showed signs of stabilization after declining last year. The County Index ticked up from the prior quarter for the first time since Fall 2013. Although the economic activity level was still down from the same time a year earlier, the pace of declines was the slowest in a year on a year-over-year basis. The boost came from the tourism sector. More travelers came to the region and spent more; the year-over-year percent increase in the average Saturday vehicle traffic counts was the highest since the Great Recession and the year-over-year percent increase in spending at lodgings was also the highest since Fall 2013. However, the rest of the economy struggled. The goods-producing sector weakened further; industrial electricity sales marked a double-digit decline compared to the same period a year ago. The labor market contracted; wages and salaries decreased for the fifth consecutive quarter on a year-over-year basis. This declining job opportunities in the County appeared to have encouraged its residents to find jobs from outside the region; the pace of decreases in the number of employed residents was the slowest since Summer 2013. Although wages and salaries and number of employed residents are both labor market indicators, the latter is by place of residence while the former is by place of work. The County’s housing market saw signs of stabilization after a year of declines in home prices; the pace of declines in median home prices fell to a single digit on a year-over-year basis after marking three consecutive double-digit declines, and the volume of home sales increased two straight quarters.

The economic activity surpassed the pre-recession level in New Hampshire. The State Index surpassed an index of 100 for the first time since the Great Recession. Four out of the five component indicators either exceeded or reached the pre-recession level, an index of 100. The labor market strengthened; the number of employed residents was higher than any point since the Great Recession. The tourism sector remained strong; both the average Saturday vehicle traffic counts and spending at lodgings were up from the same period a year earlier. The state’s housing market data appeared to have heated up again; the volume of home sales increased two consecutive quarters after declining two quarters in a row and the pace of increases in median home prices rebounded after falling four straight quarters. Three of the four state leading indicators remained up.

Spring 2014

July 9th, 2014 by Daniel Lee

Recovery continued at modest pace.

The economic activity increased in Coos County between spring 2014 and spring 2013. The economy registered positive growth for the fifth consecutive quarter on a year-over-year basis, although the pace of growth declined two straight quarters. Four of the five component indicators were up from their 2013 spring levels. The tourism sector continued to lead the county’s economic recovery; both average Saturday vehicle traffic counts and spending at lodgings remained up from the prior year. The good-producing sector gained momentum; industrial electricity sales increased two consecutive quarters on a year-over-year basis. As a cautionary note, there were some early indications that the recovery may be slowing down. Number of employed residents declined from prior year for the first time since winter 2013. In addition, the pace of growth in spending at lodgings declined two straight quarter. The County’s housing market hit the brakes; both housing sales and median home prices were lower than their 2013 spring levels.

The State’s economic recovery gained momentum and widespread in spring 2014. The State Index increased 15 consecutive quarters on a year-over-year basis. The pace of growth rose two straight quarters. All five component indicators remained up from the prior year. The industrial sector gained momentum; industrial electricity sales grew nine consecutive quarters and its pace of growth increased three straight quarters. The labor market stayed the course on recovery; the pace of increases in the number of employed residents accelerated. The tourism sector continued to be a force behind the recovery; both average Saturday vehicle traffic counts and spending at lodgings were higher than their spring 2013 levels. The state’s housing market showed signs of cooling off; the pace of increases in median home prices slowed for the first time since Fall 2012.

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.