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May 10. 2014 1:11AM

Mike Cote's Business Editor's Notebook: New Hampshire by the numbers


 

Today's column is brought to you by the No. 13.

It's the Granite State's lucky number these days, thanks to Bankrate.com and Alex Preston Philbrick. We'll add their contributions to our New Hampshire Advantage arsenal, as they play to the part of the demographic spectrum we already know the state reaches and one it hopes to nurture.

Bankrate.com released a report Monday that ranked New Hampshire as the 13th best place to retire. Woohoo! Not too shabby. We can live free and die right where we are.

The report, which examined such factors as cost of living, taxes, health care, crime and climate, put South Dakota atop the list, followed by Colorado, Utah, North Dakota and Wyoming.

New Hampshire ranked second in the nation for health care quality and did fine overall. Blame our less-than-top-10 placing on something we can do nothing about: At 43.5 percent, our expected average sunshine is among the worst in the country (compared with 72 percent in Colorado, for example). Maine, ranked 12th overall, and Vermont, ranked 14th, fared slightly better on the sunny scale.

Idol among us

As for Mr. Philbrick, known to millions now as Alex Preston, the Mont Vernon hero has made it to the final three in the 13th season of "American Idol,'' a strong enough showing to merit a parade at the University of New Hampshire on Saturday, followed by a concert featuring the 21-year-old singer-songwriter. Whether Preston reaches the top spot, he's already proved himself the most original of the bunch.

We'll await the moment Preston shows up on "Late Night with Seth Meyers" for a meeting of two New Hampshire icons. Both are generating a healthy dose of cool for the Granite State - the factor that might make more young people want to live, work and play here. Meyers graced the cover of Time magazine in January, just a couple of weeks after Pope Francis. And the Manchester West High School graduate joined the pontiff this month in the Time 100 list of "the most influential people in the world." (Meyers comes to town for a stand-up show on June 7 at the Palace Theater.)

Hip among the hippies

Preston and Meyers may be a little too, um, hip, for the hippie culture, but don't worry, we have no shortage of hippies in New Hampshire.

In Estately's newly released study of the Best U.S. States for Hippies, New Hampshire came in third, just behind No. 1 Vermont and No. 2 Maine. Massachusetts - perhaps too sophisticated for the Ben & Jerry's crowd - ranked a mere No. 20. (Or maybe hippies hate taxes, too.)

"Our rankings were determined by measuring per capita the number of communes and co-ops, (Internet commerce) Etsy stores selling hemp/patchouli/tie-dye products, and the percentage of Facebook users who express interest in the Grateful Dead, Phish, cannabis, tie-dye, peace, LSD, Bob Dylan and hippies," Ryan Nickum, a blogger for the real estate search site, said in a release.

New Hampshire ranked even higher than Colorado (No. 5) and Washington (No. 9); you know, those two states that just legalized marijuana?

Working moms abound

Our final round of numbers makes one wonder whether there is a relationship between being the best place to retire and having a high percentage of working mothers.

South Dakota - that No. 1 place to retire - also tops the list of states having the greatest number of working moms, nearly 80 percent, according to U.S. Census data examined by ancestry.com. New Hampshire ranked No. 8, at 73.5 percent. Vermont and Maine were also in the top 10, at No. 7 and No. 10, respectively.

While the debate rages on about how much women earn compared with their male counterparts and their low numbers at the executive level among Fortune 500 companies, there's no argument about how much their role has increased in the working world since World War II - or whether their influence will continue to grow stronger in the 21st century.

On Mother's Day, here's a salute to all working moms - as if there is any other kind.

Mike Cote is business editor at the New Hampshire Union Leader. Contact him at 668-4321 ext. 324 or mcote@unionleader.com.



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