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Carsey Demographer: Recession Slows Population Growth in Most N.H. Counties

By Beth Potier, Media Relations
March 31, 2010

Between July of 2008 and July of 2009, more people left New Hampshire than moved to it, reversing a trend of domestic migration that had fueled the state’s population growth over the past decade, according to an analysis of recently-released U.S. Census Bureau data by the Carsey Institute at UNH.

“New Hampshire has long benefited from an inflow of people from other states, but as the recession deepened migration to the state dwindled,” says Kenneth M. Johnson, senior demographer at the Carsey Institute and professor of sociology. “Much of New Hampshire’s growth in recent years occurred because more people move to the state than left it. This changed last year.”

In his analysis of Census Bureau data from July 2008 to July 2009, Johnson found that New Hampshire’s population grew by only 3,550 between 2008 and 2009, to an estimated 1,315,809 people as of July 1, 2009. In that time period, nearly 2,500 more people left New Hampshire for other states than moved to it; only because of natural increase – the excess of births over deaths – and immigration did the state offset this domestic migration loss.

Additional key findings in the fact sheet, called “New Hampshire Demographic Trends
Reflect Impact of the Economic Recession”, include:

  • Nine of 10 New Hampshire counties grew slower or lost population last year.

  • Only Hillsborough County showed great population gain last year.

  • Migration gains in historically fast-growing Strafford and Rockingham counties diminished sharply; population growth in each county was cut in half.

  • Migration has slowed significantly in Belknap and Carroll counties, known as centers of recreation and retirement. Carroll lost migrants to other U.S. destinations and lost population overall, and Belknap gained fewer than 100 domestic migrants and experienced only minimal population gain.

“As jobs and job security disappear and housing values drop, people are more reluctant to move than earlier in the decade. The recession has frozen people in place,” says Johnson.

The fact sheet is available to download here: http://www.carseyinstitute.unh.edu/docs/FS_Johnson_EconomicRecession.pdf. It was funded by the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, the Agricultural Experiment Station at UNH and Northeastern States Research Cooperative.

The Carsey Institute conducts policy and applied research on vulnerable families and on sustainable community development, giving policy makers and practitioners the timely, independent resources they need to effect change in their communities. Learn more at http://carseyinstitute.unh.edu/.


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