More people have jobs in N.H. than ever before, state says

  • When the jobless rate goes down, the labor force participation rate goes up. Courtesy—NH Employment Security

  • Now hiring. West Lebanon, N.H., October 1, 2018. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to James M. Patterson

Published: 12/18/2018 4:26:19 PM

More people had jobs in New Hampshire last month than ever before, reflecting not just the lowest state unemployment rate in 40 years but also a turnaround in the number of people entering the workforce.

“When you have low unemployment there is a tendency for somebody that might otherwise feel that I’m not really looking for a job, they might start looking again,” said Annette Nielsen, an economist with the N.H. Department of Employment Security.

Like many states, New Hampshire has seen a long, slow decrease in the workforce participation rate. That rate was almost 74 percent in 1990, meaning that approximately three-quarters of New Hampshire residents aged 16 to 64 were working or looking for work, but it fell to less than 68 percent last year.

The decline is largely a reflection of the state’s aging population, said Nielsen. Basically, more people are retiring than are entering the workforce.

Over the past year, however, the labor participation rate has ticked upward by close to a percentage point, the biggest such increase in two decades, as the very low unemployment has forced employers to work harder at luring and keeping workers.

The Employment Security Department estimates that in November, 743,860 people had jobs in New Hampshire, a full 16,570 more than in November 2017. Nielsen said that number is the highest ever.

The unemployment rate in November was 2.5 percent, a low that hasn’t been reached since August 1988.

The number of unemployed residents fell to 19,180, 250 fewer unemployed than in November 2017.

Nationally, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for November was 3.7 percent, unchanged from the October rate.

(David Brooks can be reached at 369-3313 or or on Twitter @GraniteGeek.)

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