New Hampshire’s two most populous cities received top scores as the best places to find a job in a recent WalletHub study. Both Nashua and Manchester ranked in the top 25 cities in the country for a job search, they concluded, based on the job market and the socio-economic status of 182 cities across the country. The two Granite State hubs outranked Boston, and Providence, Rhode Island with only two other New England cities appearing in the top 25: South Burlington, Vermont, and Portland, Maine.

“Both Nashua and Manchester outrank Boston and Providence in most categories. Some of the biggest differences are in job opportunities and the unemployment rate. The latter is just under 7 percent in the New Hampshire cities and almost double in Providence. Manchester and Nashua also have higher percentages of engaged workers and ranked higher in terms of full-time employment,” Diana Polk, communications manager for WalletHub, tells NHJournal.

“The two New Hampshire cities are better placed socio-economically as well. They have more affordable housing, and their median annual household incomes adjusted by cost of living are higher — almost $56,000 in Manchester and over $69,000 in Nashua, as opposed to just above $47,000 in Boston and $38,000 in Providence.”

While the two cities have more affordable housing compared to the capitals of Massachusetts and Rhode Island, the availability of that housing is pretty scarce across the state. The New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority reports real estate listings on the MLS system were down 23 percent in December 2020 compared to the previous year, and the median sale price jumped 17 percent from November 2019 to 2020. Homes under $300,000 are on the market on average for less than one month, with the total inventory averaging slightly over one month.

Across the state, the rental availability jumped from 0.8 percent in 2019 to 1.8 percent in 2020, according to a separate NHHFA report. “In comparison, the U.S. vacancy rate is 6.6 percent and in the Northeast, it is 5.5 percent,” they say. “A vacancy rate of 4 percent to 5 percent is considered a balanced market for tenants and landlords.”

The report notes median rent is up 5 percent from 2019 and is $1,413 (including utilities.) “To afford the statewide median cost of a typical two-bedroom apartment with utilities, a New Hampshire renter would have to earn 125% of the estimated statewide median renter income, or over $56,500 a year.”

“To sustain New Hampshire’s economy, additional housing is needed to support our labor force, as well as those who cannot work because of age or disability. According to a recent study, about 20,000 more housing units are needed to meet current demand and stabilize the market,” the NHHFA reports in their 2020 rental survey report.

A recent UHaul report lists New Hampshire as the most migrated to state in New England and 23rd in the country, up from 31 last year.