The Anteroom

Total Employment Gap Still Exists Despite Better Employment Picture

By Curtis Barry

Yesterday’s news on the New Hampshire unemployment rate is certainly welcome, and the total workforce continues to climb, but is the news really “great?”  The fact is there are as many people working in New Hampshire now as in 2006 – eight years ago.  Since in or around January of 2010, when total non-farm employment in New Hampshire bottomed out at about 620,000 people, we’ve experienced a steady climb upward to 640,000.  Nevertheless, when compared to the 653,000 employed in April of 2008, New Hampshire’s economy faces a gap.  People earning paychecks drives an economy; housing, retail purchases, entertainment, etc., and our economy had been built based upon 13,000 more people working.  In June of last year, I wrote that a stalled unemployment rate didn’t portray the whole picture, that total employment was the figure to pay attention to.  And employment does continue to grow – more people are working than the year before and at higher wages.  But using 2014 average weekly earnings of $828, the gap amounts to $560 million in total wages that would exist at 2008 employment levels.  Perhaps New Hampshire policy-makers shouldn’t rock the boat.