Granite State population rebounding
By PAUL FEELY
New Hampshire Union Leader
February 21. 2015 8:00PM
An 1870s mill was converted to house 50 affordable housing apartments in Milford in 2014. (Union Leader)
After seeing an annual influx of between 10,000 and 20,000 people moving to New Hampshire from other states, that flow slowed to a trickle between 2000 and 2012. Now, the most recent data from the Census Bureau show the Granite State reporting a net gain of more than 1,000 residents through state-to-state migration between July 1, 2013, and July 1, 2014 - the first sizable increase in years.
Demographers and economists examining the numbers say that growth could continue for the foreseeable future.
"It's modest compared to the historical patterns we saw in the '70s, '80s, even the '90s," said Kenneth Johnson, senior demographer at the University of New Hampshire's Carsey Institute. "But it is a swing in the other direction, and based on the numbers were seeing in other similar states, I think there's a good chance this trend will continue."
Migration includes both domestic migration and immigration. Domestic migration is defined as people moving between locations in the United States. Johnson defined net immigration as the difference between the number of people coming into an area from outside the country and the number of people leaving the country from that same area.
According to the latest Census data, as of July 1, 2014, New Hampshire's population estimate was 1,326,813. The data show that while between April 1, 2010, and July 1, 2014, domestic migration numbers fell by 5,124 residents, when broken down by year it shows that category turning positive between July 1, 2013, and July 1, 2014, with 1,117 residents moving here from other states.
The data show 2,026 people moved here from international locations, boosting the state's overall net migration total to 3,143 people over a one-year period.Wait and see
"That's a positive sign, though a small one," said Dennis Delay, an economist with the New Hampshire Center for Public Policy Studies. "It's too early to say much about what it might mean long term, but I'm cautiously optimistic about it continuing to improve."
Delay said several factors could be behind the uptick.
"Job growth has been a lot stronger the last couple of years here," said Delay. "A few years ago, roughly two thirds of the jobs created paid a below average wage. Now, about half of the jobs created are paying above-average wages. Another part of the equation is the housing market."
"If people in other parts of New England, even the rest of the U.S., are able to sell their homes more easily, they may choose to move here," said Johnson. "The median price of an average home here is about $100,000 less than in, say, Massachusetts. That you can get a lot more house for your dollar here makes New Hampshire a very attractive destination for people."
In terms of age demographics for those moving here, Johnson reports the state reports modest gains in people in their 30s and 40s. The number of residents in their 50s remained about even, according to Johnson, while the number of residents in their 60s declined.
"There was a very moderate loss among those in their 20s," said Johnson. "That said, 92 percent of residents in their 20s stay in New Hampshire, and 96 percent of those in their 30s."Enrollment question
Delay and Johnson both said they weren't prepared to comment on whether the migration numbers might eventually provide a boost to school enrollment figures in the state. According to statistics from the state's Department of Education, student enrollment across all public, private and charter schools in New Hampshire for the 2013-14 school year totaled 203,414. That's down from 206,435 in 2012-13, and 209,495 in 2011-12. The figure represents the 12th straight year total enrollments have dropped in the Granite State, dating back to 2002-03, the high water mark in terms of enrollment at 231,499 students.
Across the U.S., the Census data show the number of Americans moving between states last year remained low, under 455,000. That's down slightly from 2012 and well below pre-recession levels. In 2007, just prior to the start of the Great Recession, almost 882,000 people in the U.S. moved between states.
According to Johnson, migration accounted for the majority of the state's population increase in the 70s, 80s, and 90s. Migration gains were greatest during the 1970s, when the state's population grew by 183,000, or 24.8 percent, according to Johnson.
"Migration accounted for 74 percent of that population gain," said Johnson. "In the 1980s, New Hampshire gained almost 189,000 residents, with migration accounting for 62 percent of that gain."
Johnson said growth began to slow during the 1990s to 127,000, 11.4 percent of the total population, primarily due to smaller migration gain.
"The situation changed in the last decade, when natural increase or births were behind most of the state's population increase for the first time in decades," said Johnson.
The population gain from 2000 and 2010 dropped to 80,700, with migration adding just 35,400 people to the state's firstname.lastname@example.org
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