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May 07. 2013 5:06PM

Economist: ‘Changing’ NH in ‘lackluster’ recovery

CONCORD -- New Hampshire’s economy is recovering from the great recession of 2007 and 2008 but “the bad news is we don’t seem to be recovering as quickly as the rest of the country,” a well-known Granite State economist said Tuesday.

Dennis Delay of the New Hampshire Center for Public Policy Studies briefed the Senate Ways and Means Committee with a mixture of good and bad economic news.

While not recovering as quickly as he and other experts had anticipated, Delay said “the good news is we weren’t hurt as much as the rest of the country” by the recession.

Delay predicted the state economy will grow by about 2.5 percent through 2013 and 2014 and by about 3.5 percent in 2015 and 2016.

He called the recovery “lackluster,” explaining that the state had 690,000 jobs when the recession began and now has 640,000, and will not be “where we were” until late 2014.

“By ‘stalling’ or ‘lackluster,’” Delay said, “I mean it’s an economic recovery that’s very slow and, frankly, disappointing compared to what we’ve seen in the past in New Hampshire.

“There are significant changes in New Hampshire right now that are common knowledge about what New Hampshire is,” said Delay.

“We think of ourselves as a high-growth, high-income and very attractive state,” he said.

“That is all true, but we see things changing and probably not changing for the better.

“We’re not having people moving into New Hampshire at the rate they used to. It’s a break from the traditional pattern of New Hampshire always being the one to lead New England and the rest of the country out of the recession. That simply isn’t happening right now.”

Delay said the state’s rate of job creation “is a little slower than some of the other New England states, such as Vermont and Massachusetts and it is significantly slower than energy-producing states, such as Wyoming and North Dakota.”

“We have to think of ourselves differently than we have in the past,” he said.

Delay said it appears that state revenues will end up at $2.26 billion for 2013 with the help of one-time revenue from tobacco and MTBE court settlements.

“Under the best assumptions,” he said, “It look like in 2016 we would be back to the same level of state revenue as it was in 2007 and 2008. We would be back to $2.35 billion.”

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