People are moving on up ... to New Hampshire.

A national moving company reported Wednesday that New Hampshire had the fourth-highest percentage of inbound moves from elsewhere in the United States in 2018.

Only Nevada, Idaho and North Carolina saw higher percentages of people moving into their states from other states, according to Atlas Van Lines.

The Atlas sample size for New Hampshire is small, with 266 moves into the state and 198 heading out, between Jan. 1 and Dec. 15 — meaning 57 percent of all New Hampshire moves by Atlas were to bring people into the Granite State.

That was slightly better than the 55 percent in-migration rate for Atlas customers in 2017.

But the trend — also discussed by economists and demographers — is important to the state’s well being.

“The resumption of in-migration, which has been a key to New Hampshire’s labor force, talent, and economic growth for the past several decades is the best news for the state in a long time,” said Dover economist Brian Gottlob.

Gottlob’s number-crunching of U.S. Census data showed New Hampshire ranked sixth in the nation in percentage of net gain of people moving in from other states in 2017.

“We have been seeing an increase in net in-migration from other states over the past few years.” Gottlob said. He attributed it to New Hampshire’s attractiveness, the improving economy and sensitivity to housing and mortgage credit market issues.

An important difference from past patterns is that the current one is “relatively more concentrated in certain areas of the state, especially the Seacoast,” Gottlob said. And also, “the demographics have moved slightly younger.”

He said more people in their mid- to late 20s are moving in than in the past, although the core demographics of the newcomers are age 30-44, two-wage earner married couple, both college educated and with kids,” Gottlob said.

Skepticism

But Ken Johnson, senior demographer with the Carsey School of Public Policy at the University of New Hampshire, cautions the Atlas numbers represent a small portion of all people moving.

“If anybody would say New Hampshire has the fourth-highest net migration out of any state, I’d be extremely skeptical of that,” he said.

Johnson agreed that New Hampshire has benefited from more people moving in from other states than leaving.

He recently released his analysis of U.S. Census data showing New Hampshire netted a net gain of 5,900 people from state-to-state migration between 2013 and 2017. During the Great Recession, New Hampshire gained only a net of about 100 people a year between 2008 and 2012.

“We’re going from New Hampshire barely holding its own with domestic migration to New Hampshire experiencing moderate migration gains in the last few years,” Johnson said Wednesday.

“New Hampshire tends to gain people in their late 20s, 30s and 40s,” Johnson said. “Those are the most likely people to move into New Hampshire. New Hampshire tends to gain more college-educated people in these moves. You’re getting people at their peak of their labor-force experience and also families are coming, too.”

According to Atlas, Massachusetts and Maine saw more Atlas customers moving in than out in 2018, while Vermont saw more Atlas customers moving out.

mcousineau@unionleader.com