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July 01. 2014 8:02PM

New Hampshire less business friendly, according to survey

New Hampshire ranked 19th out of 38 states in overall business friendliness, a sharp drop from No. 3 a year ago, according to a new survey Tuesday.

The Granite State recorded the second largest state drop, according to a survey by Thumbtack.com, which introduces customers to experienced professionals to do personal projects.

Only Alabama fared worse, falling 18 spots.

The website surveyed nearly 13,000 business owners, including 75 in New Hampshire. Not all states received enough responses to receive grades.

“This is an unusually high drop, so I’d want to look into it more before I had a real good answer,” Jon Lieber, the website’s chief economist, said in a phone interview from California.

The state’s overall business friendliness grade dropped from an A-plus last year to a B-minus.

Last year, the state notched A-plus scores in six of 10 categories and nothing worse than a B in the others.This year, it scored only two A’s, for “ease of starting a business” (sixth overall in the country) and for licensing. Five categories produced a grade of C or worse, including a D for health and safety regulations and D-pluses for ease of hiring and its labor laws.

Lorna Colquhoun, communications director for the state Division of Economic Development, said “a low response may account for the wide swing in grades from 2013. Nonetheless, this is another survey that shows New Hampshire ranks high in terms of business friendliness, especially in comparison to its New England neighbors.”

A survey released last month by CNBC ranked New Hampshire in a tie for 30th overall for “America’s top states for businesses,” down from 27th last year and 19th in 2012.

Lieber said a state could go down because other states improved. And in states where the unemployment rate falls, such as in New Hampshire, it can create a scarcity in qualified job applicants, hurting a state’s score for ease of hiring, he said.

In the Thumbtack.com survey, New Hampshire is considered the friendliest state in New England for starting a small business and sixth best in the country. The Granite State’s B-minus grade for overall friendliness beat out Massachusetts (D-plus), Connecticut (D), and Rhode Island (F).Utah was the top-rated state while Rhode Island scored the worst. Massachusetts finished 31st. Maine and Vermont didn’t receive grades.



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