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Bunny’s and Chocolate Win Big at NH SBA Awards

Pramod Nyaupane and his wife, Bibhuti Thapa, may take a moment to enjoy their award as the 2024 NH SBA Small Business Week Minority-Owned Business of the Year—but only after they’ve finished working.

“We work seven days a week. Hard work and long hours at work help keep peace at home,” Nyaupane said. “Our goal is to cut back. We want to work five days a week…starting 10 years from now.”

The owners of Bunny’s Superette, the convenience store that’s been a Manchester fixture since the 1950s, were among this year’s New Hampshire SBA Small Business Week winners honored during a celebration held Tuesday at the Tupelo Music Hall in Derry.

SBA Director Administrator Isabel Guzman, who took photos with the winners, delivered a message on behalf of the Biden administration.

“The SBA can power up business success stories,” Guzman said, touting the $50 billion in funding the agency handles annually to aid small businesses. She noted the Tupelo Music Hall itself needed SBA help at one point.

The small businesses honored on Tuesday are among 170,000 in the Granite State, according to Guzman, who said her agency has received about 40,000 new business applications from New Hampshire since 2021.

Nyaupane and Thapa both came to the United States separately in the early 2000s and made their way to Manchester. The couple got together in the Queen City, married, and began their business life.

After buying Bunny’s in 2010 and working hard to keep it successful, Nyaupane and Thapa expanded the business. They opened a new Bunny’s location on Elm Street in 2017, betting the store would thrive with the city. Nyaupane said Thapa is the secret behind their success.

“When your wife works twice as hard as you do, things go well,” he said.

District Director Award winner Richard Tango-Lowy was a physicist when he fell in love with chocolate in the 1980s. He spent years researching chocolate and teaching himself how to work with a confection with a history dating back to the Mayan civilization. When he decided to leap into the professional world of chocolate, Tango-Lowy’s wife was skeptical.

“I never planned to be a chocolatier. My wife said, ‘You’re going to make a living doing what?'” Tango-Lowy said.

He spent more years studying chocolate with masters in the field. He went to Vancouver to take the Ecole Chocolat’s Professional Chocolatier course, to France and later Tuscany to earn his Master Chocolatier certifications, and to Ecuador to learn how to go from chocolate bean to chocolate bar. In 2011, he opened Dancing Lion Chocolate, which is a shop, cafe, and production kitchen in Manchester. Dancing Lion has gone on to be recognized as one of the premiere chocolate shops in the country and Tango-Lowy as one of the best chocolatiers.

Both New Hampshire Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan were on hand to honor the small business owners.

Businesses like Bunny’s and Dancing Lion drive the economy and innovations, Shaheen said.

“I think most of us know that about two-thirds of jobs are created from small businesses. But my favorite statistic about small businesses is that you create 16 times more patents than large businesses. I think most people don’t realize that. And I think it’s one reason that the U.S. Patent and Trade Office just decided to locate its northern New England office in New Hampshire, which is very good news for all of us,” Shaheen said.

Hassan’s message was that freedom is essential to small business success.

“All the small business owners here are also a testament to the difference that freedom can make. And I want people to just focus on this for a minute, a lot of things that we can take for granted living in New Hampshire, living in the United States. I think one of them is democracy and freedom, and it’s something that is essential to the kind of progress and the kind of strength that you all exhibit here today,” Hassan said. “Because to be individually free is to be free to innovate, to be free to do the thing you love to do, to contribute your talents, to be able to try something and fail and then try again. There is no limit to our creativity, but we all have to be free and live in this democratic society in this democratic system.”

Among the other winners Tuesday:

Small Business Persons of the Year, Susan Borchert and Betsy Harrison, Counseling Associates, PLLC, New London; Home-Based for NH and New England, Logan Snyder, HasOptimization, LLC, Canterbury; Young Entrepreneurs for NH and New England, Bryce Harrison – Ian Lubkin – James Gaudreault, Cheese Louise, Portsmouth – North Conway – Portland, Me.; Veteran Owned, Ken Whitten and Joseph Whitten, Apparel Impact, LLC, Hooksett; Woman Owned, Danielle Jones, Abenaki Trail Restaurant and Pub, North Conway; Financial Services Champion, Patricia Grauwiler, Enterprise Bank and Trust Co., Salem; Small Business Manufacturer, Justin Sousa, Sousa Signs, LLC, Manchester; Jeffrey Butland Family Owned Award, Tom and Sally Wilkins, Wilkins Lumber Co., Inc., Milford; Micro-Enterprise, Andrea Lee Daniels, and Quality Press, Inc., Concord.

New NH Business Filings Are Booming, NHSOS Reports

New Hampshire’s economy keeps booming, and more residents are looking to themselves to create the next opportunity, according to the New Hampshire Secretary of State’s (NHSOS) Corporation Division.

The state reached the milestone of 100,000 LLC and corporation annual reports processed this year, a 7.5 percent increase over last year.

“The number of LLC formations in New Hampshire also continues to increase each year as a result of New Hampshire’s strong economy,” the NHSOS office said in a statement. “On average, over 2,000 new businesses are forming each month with our office, most of which are small businesses.”

The numbers are getting rave reviews.

“This is what a strong economy looks like,” Greg Moore, director of Americans for Prosperity/New Hampshire said on Twitter.

The Granite State is outperforming the rest of New England economically, becoming one of the country’s leading economies, with a population of just 1.4 million people. 

“Despite the national narrative around the state of the U.S. economy and a potential slowdown, New Hampshire’s economy is healthy and continues to attract entrepreneurs and new business owners given our pro-business climate,” said Michael Skelton, president and CEO of the Business and Industry Association, the statewide chamber of commerce and leading business advocate.

New Hampshire’s economy, freedom from sales and income taxes, and overall business-friendly environment is attracting more people to move here, and they are succeeding.

New Hampshire’s unemployment rate is a stunning 2.4 percent, a full percentage point below the national average of 3.4 percent. The poverty rate for the state is 7.2 percent, well below the national rate of 11.6 percent. On top of that, the state’s GDP rose again this year to $84 billion, up 2.5 percent from last year. 

More young people are moving to New Hampshire as well, as 25-29-year-olds looking to start careers after college are choosing the Granite State. New Hampshire is the second favorite destination in the age group, after Utah.

The influx of people attracted to New Hampshire’s freedom and independence means more people are starting businesses, the engine that is driving New Hampshire’s boom.

The state is also blowing past old records when it comes to export revenue. Last year, New Hampshire businesses brought home $1 billion more in revenue than they did in 2021, up to $7.3 billion in total.

The export revenue increase is just another reason for people to move to New Hampshire, Gov. Chris Sununu said at the time.

“I encourage any business, small or large, to make the Granite State their home. We are open for business!” Sununu said.

The number of LLC, limited liability corporations, formed in New Hampshire continues to increase each year as a result of New Hampshire’s strong economy, according to the Secretary of State’s Office. On average, more than 2,000 new businesses are forming each month with the state, most of which are small businesses, the NHSOS office reports.

“We understand business owners are busy, so we strive to make it as simple as possible for businesses to stay in compliance with the requirement to file their annual report,” said Thomas Connolly, Director of the Corporation Division. “Our corporate database is an essential tool to support business activity throughout the State.”

New Hampshire Advantage Going Global

The world is coming to the Granite State as businesses from across the globe are setting up shop in order to get their cut of the ‘New Hampshire Advantage.’

The new report on New Hampshire Foreign Direct Investment prepared by the New Hampshire Department of Business and Economic Affairs, Plymouth State University, and the World Affairs Council of New Hampshire shows New Hampshire gaining a leading edge in attracting businesses from nearly every continent.

New Hampshire is outperforming the national average when it comes to employment from foreign companies and investment.

“New Hampshire’s low taxes, skilled workforce, and proximity to domestic and foreign markets are advantages few states can offer to companies poised for international growth,” BEA Commissioner Taylor Caswell said. “These data and findings will be useful in our efforts to attract businesses to New Hampshire and create high-paying jobs for years to come.”

According to the report, written by PSU professors Roxana Wright and Chen Wu, New Hampshire outperformed the national average when it comes to investment from global firms. Foreign subsidiaries employed 50,700 people in the state in 2020, which is 8 percent of the state’s overall private-sector employment, higher than the national average of 6 percent. Right said this level of global investment runs throughout all industries and locations in the Granite State, strengthening the New Hampshire economy.

Plymouth State University professors Roxana Wright, left, and Chen Wu present their findings in the 2021-2022 NH Foreign Direct Investment Report at the New Hampshire Foreign Direct Investment Forum on Thursday

“Foreign direct investment and international connections touch many of the industry segments and all key supply chain activities in New Hampshire,” Wright said. “And international businesses contribute to financing availability for private and corporate residents, to the growth of local markets and industries, and to the resilience of production capacity.”

The PSU report found that in 2022 nearly 180 foreign companies headquartered in 23 foreign countries had more than 360 subsidiaries from some 50 industries operating across the ten counties in New Hampshire.

Most of the foreign-owned subsidiaries are in the finance and insurance industry, making up 28 percent of foreign firms. About 75 percent of these finance companies operate in Hillsborough and Rockingham counties, but the rest of the state is benefiting from foreign investments, the report found.

Wright and Wu’s report found there is plenty of potential for growth in foreign manufacturing investment in the North Country as well.

After finance and insurance companies, foreign investment is spread evenly across a wide spectrum of industries, including retail, research, manufacturing, real estate, and transportation. The foreign investment throughout New Hampshire’s economy shows the opportunity companies around the world see in the Granite State, and it makes local industries stronger, Wu and Wright say.

“The diverse presence of foreign firms within industries once again demonstrates the high level of integration that foreign businesses have with a wide range of lucrative activities in the state,” Wu and Wright’s report states. “For successful operations, it can be expected that these firms collaborate and partner with local, domestic, and non-domestic companies and institutions and are an intricate part of New Hampshire business.”

Canada leads the way when it comes to foreign companies investing in New Hampshire, with 118 subsidiaries in 2022. They’re followed by the United Kingdom’s 53, Switzerland’s 30, Japan’s 25, and Germany’s 23.

These foreign firms are spread unevenly throughout the state, with most in the southern parts of New Hampshire, dominated by Hillsborough and Rockingham counties who host companies from around the globe. The Norty Country’s Coos County is home to just two foreign subsidiaries, both from Canada. 

The full report is available on PSU’s webpage.


Based on Value and Lifestyle, New Hampshire Tops ‘Cheapest Place to Live’ List

In New Hampshire, it may not quite be “Live Free,” but according to a new report, it’s pretty darn cheap.

Moving company northAmerican Moving Services ranks New Hampshire as America’s “Cheapest Place to Live” based on the overall value for Granite Staters compared to residents of other states. Its report says New Hampshire offers a “high quality of life at a lower price point.”

The company looked at average household income, median home price, average housing cost, average grocery costs, average utilities, inflation costs, and state income taxes for the rankings and determined New Hampshire is the best in the nation.

“These states offer a high quality of life at a lower price point, making them an excellent choice for anyone looking to stretch their budget further,” the report states.

Being first among 50 is something New Hampshire is getting used to. Last year alone, the Granite State was named first in overall freedom by the Cato Institute, first in public safety by U.S. News, and first in economic freedom by the Fraser Institute.

In his State of the State address this month, Gov. Chris Sununu touted New Hampshire’s leading economy and free society as a model for the rest of the country.

“Over the last six years, New Hampshire has become an island of freedom surrounded by highly taxed, highly regulated states,” Sununu said. “We are a harbor for citizens fleeing the states they once called home in pursuit of our Live Free or Die way of life … ‘We have provided leadership that puts ‘The Individual’ ahead of ‘The System.’”

Under Sununu’s watch, New Hampshire has become the fastest-growing economy in the nation, with record-low poverty rates and a booming job market. The state also ranks high for raising children, supporting families, and overall access to healthcare.

“New Hampshire is the envy of the nation, the gold standard of states, and number one place in America to live, work, and raise a family,” Sununu said.

South Dakota, Tennessee, Alaska, and Texas made up the top five cheapest states to live based on those metrics. No other New England state landed in the top 10.

That may explain why New Hampshire gained population last year while Massachusetts and Rhode Island suffered losses.

And a new analysis by the National Taxpayers Union released Thursday also named New Hampshire one of the best states for remote and mobile workers. Thanks to the lack of an individual income tax, the Granite State tied for first with other states that have the same tax policy. Massachusetts ranked 39th and New York was 47th.

Sununu attributes much of the success to New Hampshire’s commitment to small government. The Granite State makes sure that people get to make decisions for themselves.

“Big government authoritarianism might be how they do it in 49 other states, but that’s not how we do it in New Hampshire,” Sununu said.

Hawaii is the most expensive state to live in, according to the northAmerican Moving Services metrics, with Oregon, California, New York, and Utah close behind.

And Massachusetts? It was number 44, one of the 10 most expensive states in the U.S.

National GOP Group Backing NH State House Women

Women in New Hampshire’s GOP are getting a boost from the Republican State Leadership Committee, a national organization throwing its support behind women candidates in State House races up and down the ballot. 

“The RSLC is encouraged to see so many women candidates running in state legislative races who will effectively represent their communities in Concord and advance commonsense policies to counteract Joe Biden’s failed agenda,” said RSLC National Press Secretary Stephanie Rivera.

The RSLC has so far spent $500,000 to help send women and others to Concord this election cycle. According to Rivera, 27 percent of the Republicans running for the House this year are women, as are 26 percent of the GOP Senate candidates. Betting on Republican women is a safe wager, she said.

“In the State House, 51 percent of Republican women who ran in 2020 won their campaigns. In the Senate, Republican women had a 55 percent success rate,” she said.

According to Rivera, the RSLC’s Right Leaders Network is leading the effort to grow the Republican Party through the RSLC’s Right Women Right Now and Future Majority Project initiatives. The committee is focused on recruiting, training, supporting, and electing thousands of diverse state Republicans across the country.

New Hampshire is a key state for both Republicans and Democrats, as the national parties are looking to gain a foothold in state legislature races. The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (DLCC) is targeting legislatures in New Hampshire, Michigan, and Minnesota, pumping money and resources in an effort to turn all three state legislatures blue.

“We know what we’re up against, but we are making a play to undercut GOP power in the Michigan House and Senate, the Minnesota Senate, and the New Hampshire House and Senate,” DLCC President Jessica Post said on a conference call with reporters Tuesday.

It makes sense for the national GOP to invest in New Hampshire races, according to Rivera, as the GOP leadership in Concord has proven successful in handling the economy and the COVID-19 pandemic, and voters are looking to continue that success.

“New Hampshire has the best economy in the New England region and the second lowest unemployment rate in the country because the Republican-controlled Legislature has made the economy a top priority by passing a historic state budget that includes $171 million in tax relief for working families and small businesses, cuts taxes for retirees, and reduces property taxes by $100 million to provide relief. This diverse slate of candidates will help Republicans hold both chambers in the Granite State to continue this record of success,” Rivera said.

Democrats have been leaning heavily on abortion as an issue to motivate their base. They’re spending big money on ads attacking GOP Gov. Chris Sununu for signing a law that bans abortion after 24 weeks, or six months, of pregnancy. Sununu’s challenger, Sen. Tom Sherman, D-Rye, is using abortion as a major campaign plank, arguing against any restrictions on abortion.

“I would want to put in place Roe v. Wade in the state of New Hampshire,” Sherman said. “New Hampshire does not want the state in between a doctor and a patient, especially on such an intensely private issue.”

The issue may play with well Democratic donors, but not even New Hampshire Democrats support unrestricted abortion through all nine months of pregnancy. A St. Anslem College poll taken in August found about a quarter of Granite State Democrats support some limits on abortion, as do about 70 percent of the general population.

Rivera said New Hampshire voters, especially women voters, see the GOP as having the answer to issues like out-of-control inflation, soaring energy costs, and the price of food.

“Just like all voters in New Hampshire, women are pleased with the job being done by the Republican trifecta in Concord to push back against Joe Biden’s inflation with tax cuts that put more money in the pockets of working families,” Rivera said.

Friday Rail Strike Looms, Threatening NH Economy, Energy Supplies

NOTE: Early Thursday morning, the Biden administration announced a “tentative deal” to avert a strike, though it must go to the union membership for final approval.


A pending rail worker strike could shut down passenger rail serving in New Hampshire and hobble businesses that rely on freight for transportation.

The clock is ticking for the freight rail industry and holdout labor unions to reach an agreement on a new contract by Thursday night or face the possibility of an economy-crippling strike just weeks ahead of the midterm elections.

Nine of the 12 unions representing rail employees have bargained an agreement with the industry, based on a framework forged by members of the Presidential Emergency Board (PEB) appointed by the Biden administration. However, two unions—the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART) and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET)—are the most prominent holdouts as they push their demands.

And on Wednesday came news that the 4,900 members of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers voted to reject the tentative agreement negotiated by their leadership, adding to the turmoil.

In the Granite State, eight freight railroad companies move goods vital to area businesses, said Michael Skelton, president and CEO of the Business & Industry Association. He said a strike would devastate businesses that rely on rail transportation. He wants to see more done to avoid any work stoppage.

“(We echo) the U.S. Chamber’s call that a voluntary agreement by all parties is the best outcome, which can include extending the ‘cooling off’ period for negotiations that ends at 12:01 a.m. Friday,” Skelton said.

Of greatest concern, rail industry experts say, is the large amount of petroleum products like propane and oil, moved by rail. According to the Association of American Railroads, freight rail delivered more than 172,000 tons of petroleum products to New Hampshire in 2019. With winter approaching and energy prices already rising, a rail shutdown could create serious problems.

New Hampshire’s Department of Transportation has been in contact with the freight operators to assess how much of an impact the spike would pose. It was not clear yet how hard the state economy could be hurt by the strike according to the DOT.

One area where the Granite State economy may dodge a bullet is its forestry industry.

“The vast majority of raw forest products (logs, pulp, chips) in New England are transported via trucks intra-state and to Canada,” said Patrick D. Hackley, Director of the Department of Natural & Cultural Resources.

However, Skelton added the strike could do damage beyond the freight end of the rail business. Passenger service may also be impacted.

“A strike would also shut down Amtrak service, leaving approximately 12.2 million daily riders in 46 states without transportation. This includes New Hampshire, which sees more than 200,000 annual boardings at Granite State stations connected to the Vermonter and Downeaster lines,” Skelton said.

Nationally, the American Petroleum Industry on Tuesday warned of severe consequences to energy supplies in a letter to congressional leadership.

“Last Friday, representatives of the oil and gas industry began receiving notifications from the railroads that they intend to begin curtailing shipments of hazardous materials and other chemicals as of today, to ensure carloads of product are not stranded on the tracks if a work stoppage occurs. This curtailment alone, could have profound impacts on the ability of our industry to deliver critical energy supplies to market,” wrote Senior Vice President of Policy, Economics and Regulatory Affairs Frank Macchiarola.

“API requests that Congress prepare to act if negotiations this week fail to produce an agreement to facilitate a workable settlement and prevent catastrophic disruptions to the freight rail network.”

While it is still unclear whether Congress will act, Marc Scribner, senior transportation policy analyst at Reason Foundation said there is increasing pressure for Washington to get involved.

“Members of Congress from both parties are growing increasingly frustrated with union intransigence and are unlikely to tolerate a strike given current supply chain problems and the timing so close to their midterm elections,” Scribner said.

If a strike occurs, Scribner could see Congress acting within 24 hours to “end the strike and impose the PEB recommendations as a final settlement.”

A strike could hurt a national economy still reeling from supply chain problems. And Tuesday’s inflation number, holding close to steady at 8.3 percent annually, included news that grocery prices rose 13.5 percent year over year.

No goods on trains mean no products on trucks and even higher prices in stores due to supply and demand. As a result, organizations including the Beer Institute and Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) are, like the American Trucking Association, urging Congress to get involved.

“Reports indicate a strike could impact the economy by up to two billion dollars each day in lost activity,” said RILA’s Michael Hanson. “Absent a voluntary agreement by the Sept. 16 deadline, Congress should take swift action to implement the PEB recommendations.”

Additional reporting by Damien Fisher


Nashua Named One of America’s Best-Run Cities

Nashua is one of the best-run cities in the country according to a new WalletHub analysis. It finds the Gate City offers high-quality services within an affordable municipal budget. 

Nashua ranks fourth overall in the study based on metrics like financial stability, infrastructure, safety, health, the economy, and education. Nampa, Idaho tops the list followed by Boise, Idaho, and Fort Wayne, Ind.

There is no secret to Nashua’s success, city leaders said.

“It’s not that it’s magic, it’s just good old hard work,” said Nashua Alderman Mike O’Brien.

Mayor Jim Donchess said city hall staff and department leaders work at bringing the best services to residents at the most efficient cost.

“I know here in Nashua we are very careful with money,” Donchess said. “We look at every expenditure while also making sure we’re investing appropriately in our city services.”

According to the analysis, Nashua is tied for second place in quality of roads and fourth in lowest violent crime rate. The city made the top 10 in both the quality of the services and the lowest cost per capita. That is a rare combination.

Wendy Hunt, with the Greater Nashua Chamber of Commerce, said if Nashua has a secret it is the leadership and the dedicated municipal employees.

“I think the secret to Nashua is the departments work well together, elected officials work well together, and they’re very responsive,” Hunt said,

Aldermen throughout the city are willing to deal with constituent problems and work for solutions, she said. “They are always very on top of the needs of the community.”

O’Brien said Nashua’s leadership takes a long view when it comes to managing the city.

“I’m not doing this to make changes, but to be a custodian for the city,” O’Brien said. “My grandchildren will grow up in this city and I want to make it the best city we can afford to make it.”

Robert Wright, Senior Faculty Fellow at the American Institute for Economic Research, said many American cities saw the quality of life decline during the COVID-19 pandemic. Wright said poorly run cities suffered rising crime, school dropouts, increased unemployment, and increased municipal debt.

“All (the declines) were self-inflicted as shown by well-run cities that quickly dropped unnecessary COVID restrictions, nipped unrest in the bud, and maintained criminal deterrence policies.

Nashua continues to have low unemployment (2.3 percent) as the pandemic’s effects fade.  O’Brien said Nashua’s Police and Fire Departments have done an excellent job keeping people safe, and the city is even using a COVID-19 protocol–outdoor dining downtown–to its advantage. O’Brien said outdoor dining has become so popular the city plans to continue making it possible.

Nashua is not without its problems. O’Brien cited a lack of affordable housing in the city as a concern that needs to be addressed. He is confident the city will continue to work on improvements.

“We in Nashua understand the needs of the community, and we actively work hard to make the city a desirable city to live in,” he said.

Two New Hampshire cities made the top 20 despite being one of the smallest states. Manchester checked in at number 19.

REPORT: Granite State’s Economy Fifth Best in Nation

New Hampshire has one of the strongest state economies in the country, with high rates of high-tech jobs, low unemployment, and a GDP growth rate that outperforms California, according to a new data analysis from WalletHub. 

The report, which looked at how each state’s economy has fared since the end of the COVID-19 pandemic recession, ranks the Granite State as the fifth-best economy in America, behind Washington state, Utah, California, and Massachusetts.

New Hampshire easily outperforms the remaining New England states, with Connecticut coming in at 25, Rhode Island at 36, Vermont at 41, and Maine trailing at number 44.

However, according to experts, New Hampshire could be headed toward a recession as runaway inflation continues to drive up the price of energy, housing, and other needs.

New Hampshire comes in second, behind Tennessee and ahead of California, when it comes to positive change in gross domestic product or GDP. It is tied for first with Utah, Nebraska, Kansas, and Minnesota for the lowest unemployment rate. It is fifth when it comes to having the highest number of immigrants with advanced educations, and is fourth in the percentage of high-tech jobs.

Gov. Chris Sununu said the overall picture is good, but warned there are negative forces outside New Hampshire’s control that could be a problem.

“We’ve taken steps over these last few years to ensure that New Hampshire’s economy remains strong,” Sununu said. “But given Washington’s inaction in combating inflation and out-of-control spending, an economic downturn is on the horizon, and we are doing everything we can at the state level to minimize the impact on our citizens.” 

One expert interviewed by WalletHub, Robert Wyllie, Assistant Professor of Political Science ad Director of Political Economy Program at Ashland University in Ohio, said the country as a whole should be concerned about a potential recession and inflation getting worse. He said we could see a return to the 1970s.

“High inflation, fueled in part by high energy prices, combined with slow growth points has drawn many comparisons to the 1970s,” Wyllie said.

A recent University of New Hampshire Carsey School of Public Policy report warned of a stagnating economy. New Hampshire’s economy needs state and federal leaders to address roadblocks that come up as the world economy tries to move past COVID.

“As the state, nation, and world hopefully emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic carnage it created, New Hampshire is, to some extent, subject to economic forces beyond its control,” the report states.

The state’s many long-term challenges include the housing shortage, the shrinking labor force, the need for childcare, and infrastructure investments.

“New Hampshire has many economic advantages that position it well as it seeks to address the challenges of wage stagnation, childcare shortages, educational inequity, an aging workforce, housing affordability, struggling families, and C- infrastructure,” the UNH report states. “It has a strong and diverse economic base from which to grow, and its workforce is well-educated. With foresight and will, New Hampshire can chart a course to a productive, prosperous economy that addresses these challenges and enhances the well-being of all who live here.”

However, New Hampshire has also repeatedly been ranked near the top of the “Freedom Index” by multiple sources, due to its low tax and low regulation environment. And that could be both a reason its economy is overperforming today and has a brighter future tomorrow.

In the Wallethub report, Vincent Gloss, assistant professor of economics at George Mason University argued that “economic freedom (i.e. lower regulation, lower taxes and lower spending, safer property rights) does not only minimize downturns associated with exogenous shocks such as a pandemic, but it also accelerates recovery. Governments should look at policies that allow firms and families more flexibility in their decisions and that means stepping back.”

Red-Hot NH Economy Struggles to Find Workers

New Hampshire businesses continue to struggle to find workers even as the state economy leads the rest of New England, according to data released this week.

New Hampshire ranks in the top five states with the most open jobs, according to a WalletHub study released this week. Alaska, Vermont and Wyoming top the list of states where employers have the most trouble finding workers, with New Hampshire coming in fourth.

According to the study, New Hampshire has had an 8.5 percent job opening rate in the last 30 days, with a 7.28 percent rate over that last year. This means New Hampshire businesses need to work harder to get and keep employees, according to Paul  Antonellis, director of Institutional Planning and Assessment at Endicott College.

“The employer should be open to identifying what employees today want/need to ensure that they are meeting or exceeding those wants/needs. Today the employer must be willing to think outside the box as to how they can recruit and retain employees, what worked in the past may no longer be a driving force today and the employer needs to be willing to pivot recruitment and retention efforts for the given occupation,” he said.

According to Anthony Farina, a professor with Baruch College, City University of New York, attracting and retaining employees might be a simple matter of paying more for front line workers. There are many businesses that pay executives big salaries while skipping on the front line workers.

“If you can pay someone millions of dollars plus stock, year, after year, after year, you can pay your people better at the lower end of the pay spectrum. People are aware of what goes on in the C-Suite and at board meetings, so get out of your bubble and be willing to pay people better. You might be surprised,” he said.

Rowena Gray, Associate Professor of Economics at the University of California, said a big factor to the number of employees who are taking advantage of the CVID endemic by switching jobs and careers, leaving low paying gigs for better situations.

“So, this is good for workers and the high turnover rate might then be thought of as a chance to make better matches between workers and employers, which might also boost productivity,” she said.

Gray thinks the economic pressure will continue to bear on businesses who rely on lower wages for employees. These businesses will continue to see unionization efforts and other pushes to increase pay and benefits,

“The biggest pressure right now is on the lowest-paid work, so I would expect pay and benefits to be the main focus. We are seeing the push to unionize in various employers which have used zero-hours contracts and avoided offering benefits to employees, and maybe workers will be able to end those scenarios in this era of higher worker leverage,” she said.

Gov. Chris Sununu boasted Thursday about the Granite State’s rankings that show New Hampshire is a regional leader in economic and population growth and as a national leader in freedom and public safety.

“Ranking after ranking shows that the Granite State is the place to be,” he said. “We are very proud that our life here in the 603 is simply the best of the best, but we did not get here by accident.”

Sununu’s Insanely Hot Economy Should Be A Big Deal. So Why Isn’t It?

If pundits are looking for more evidence that partisanship is the most important motivator in American politics, New Hampshire just added another data point:

In November, the Granite State economy hit a record for the number of employed residents and a 30-year low unemployment rate…and voters threw out the Republican House and Senate and gave the incumbent GOP governor just 53 percent of the popular vote.

On Wednesday, the new jobs report revealed the highest number of working state residents ever– 763,040– and unemployment down to 2.5 percent, the lowest since August, 1988.  “Thanks to the strategic initiatives that New Hampshire has made, and our pro-growth, pro-jobs focus, more Granite Staters are working than ever before in the state’s history,” Gov. Chris Sununu said in a statement. It’s the same argument he made during the 2018 campaign, and one that his challenger, Molly Kelly, famously had no answer to.


“Today’s economic news continues the positive trends of the past few years relating to the labor force; demographics; migration; exports; unemployment, and capital investment,” said Taylor Caswell, commissioner of the Department of Business and Economic Affairs. “We can say with confidence that New Hampshire’s economy remains highly competitive and will continue to attract top talent and world class employers.”

All great news. No, not great: Spectacular.  And yet, the fourth-most popular governor in the country with a red-hot economy and an unimpressive opponent won an 8-point win.  If “The Economy, Stupid” rules were in effect, this wouldn’t happen.

The same with President Donald Trump. Setting aside the stock market’s end-of-year “polar bear plunge,” the Trump economy has been unbelievably strong–literally. Pundits predicted economic disaster from a Trump presidency and dismissed Trump’s talk of 3 percent (and higher) growth as unrealistic.  The growth rate in the last quarter? 3.5 percent. The quarter before that: 4.2 percent.  And the national jobs numbers are just as hot: 3.7 percent unemployment, record-high employment among minority workers and the highest annual increase in wages in nine years.

And where’s Trump’s approval rating? 43 percent approve, 52 percent disapprove.

This is the environment New Hampshire Republicans must navigate, one where partisan animus overwhelms actual pocketbook performance.  Social scientists continue to be astonished by this new American moment, when the best predictor of behavior isn’t race or sex or economic standing–but partisanship.  That’s not how America has worked in the past.  The Republicans who crossed over and voted for Bill Clinton in 1996, the Democrats who stuck with George W. Bush in 2004 over national-security issues–they’re gone.  They’ve been replaced by a growing number of voters who simply vote party without seriously considering candidates from across the aisle.

Which means that, for Gov. Sununu and the Republicans who hope to re-take the state legislature or offer a serious challenge to congressional Democrats, delivering results and recruiting strong candidates isn’t enough. They have to find a way to shift voter’s views of the GOP brand here in New Hampshire.

And that’s another reason why the NHGOP’s choice of a new chairman is so important.  Creating a Granite State-friendly GOP brand is vital. Unfortunately, in a Trump-dominated political environment, it may next to impossible.