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Study: Large companies adding jobs in NH

New Hampshire Union Leader

August 20. 2017 11:12PM
Recruiters from health care, tech companies, public works departments, correctional facilities, police departments and retail fields were seeking out qualified military veterans at a job fair in Portsmouth last month. (KIMBERLEY HAAS/Union Leader Correspondent)

MANCHESTER — The state’s largest employers are adding jobs at a higher clip than at smaller companies.

Census data showed companies with 250 to 499 employees added 10.3 percent more jobs between the second quarter of 2011 and a similar period in 2016. Firms with at least 500 employees grew by 9.9 percent compared to 8.1 percent for all size firms.

The slowest job growth occurred in companies with 19 or fewer workers, with a more modest 4.1 percent.

“I have seen for some time the low job creation numbers for small firms,” Dover economist Brian Gottlob said.

“During the recession small firms were especially hard hit, and credit markets were especially problematic for them. However, since the recovery job growth among small firms has remained weak. I think a lot of that is a function of the age of business rather than their size,” he said.

“The big difference I see now is a slowdown in new business formation in the state,” Gottlob said. “Entrepreneurism is down, and that accounts for much of the slow growth in under 20-employee job growth.”

Of the 41,688 private-sector jobs added during that five-year stretch, nearly two-thirds of the state’s job growth occurred in companies with at least 250 workers.

Meanwhile, a national study out last week said middle-market firms, those with $10 million and $999 million, “substantially improved the nation’s economic health between 2011 and 2017.”

“They account for just 1 percent of all commercially-active companies, but were responsible for more than half of the 51.8 million new jobs created between 2011 and 2017,” said the study from American Express and Dun & Bradstreet.

“Middle market firms are responsible for a huge part of the growth in employment over the last six years,” Geri Stengel, a research adviser to American Express who worked on the study, said in a phone interview.

New Hampshire has the eighth highest concentration of manufacturing companies among states.

“Manufacturing is very important to New Hampshire and more specifically middle-market firms,” Stengel said.

The Union Leader previously reported that the state gained 2,136 manufacturing workers between 2012 and 2016.

For June, New Hampshire tied with the fourth lowest unemployment rate, at 2.9 percent.

“Overall, New Hampshire economy is very strong, so you have a lower unemployment rate than other states,” Stengel said.

Stengel, noting the state’s low unemployment, said it presents “both a challenge and an opportunity for the state. The challenge is that for companies to grow (middle market ones in particular), that often involves hiring, and if they can’t find the right people to hire, they can’t grow. But it presents opportunity for the skilled workforce out there; if you’re looking for a job, New Hampshire is a good place to go.”

“Growth in the middle market over the last six years could be due to the fact that as growth in small businesses has really been down, middle market firms are picking up the slack,” Stengel said.

Michael Bergeron, senior business development manager at the state Department of Business and Economic Affairs, helps recruit companies from other states.

“As a general statement, most of our work are with firms $5 million to $10 million, but we also work with larger companies not based here but are looking for a branch office, or a company already here with a branch location and now weighing options on whether to stay and grow here, or some other state/country — they tend to be above $10 million,” Bergeron said by email.

“Northern and central/south western New Hampshire tends to be under $5 million or under,” Bergeron said by email.

Matt Cookson, executive director of the New Hampshire High Tech Council, noted the tight workforce.

“We are in an arms race for talent, and the disparity between larger and smaller companies may come down to the possibility that larger companies often offer richer benefits. However, I believe smaller companies can offer more diverse experiences,” Cookson said.


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