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Regional Review: New England States Are Well Positioned for Economic Growth

New England touts a long history of tradition, independence, strong character, and academics. The slow but evident economic recovery of the New England States reflects the persistent determination of its citizens and their resilience in the face of adversity.

August 2012
Ross Gittell, vice president and forecast manager for the New England Economic Partnership (NEEP), says that this region was not as negatively affected as other parts of the country by the most recent recession. He notes, "We have lower unemployment, especially in Vermont, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts, so when the national economy does start growing again, the region will be well positioned to grow along with it into a healthy economy."

The region's manufacturing employment, Gittell notes, "is good news after a long period of extended decline." He adds, "Vermont and New Hampshire are among the five states with the lowest unemployment in the country, in part due to the fact that they did not suffer the employment market drop or housing declines like other states, they have fairly diversified economies, and fairly high percentages of adults with college degrees."

Vermont's economic outlook by forecast manager Jeffrey B. Carr of the NEEP shows "proportionally better performance relative to the U.S. and New England economies," although the labor market recovery is slow, and economic prospects continue to be impacted by the lingering effects of Hurricane Irene that hit in August 2011. The outlook for 2012-2016 is for moderate recovery followed by moderate growth. If the forecast holds, the state is expected to re-capture the statewide payroll jobs lost during the recession by the third quarter of 2012.

A Diversified Economy & Low Tax Burden

New England's industry strengths are derived from professional/business services, software and high-tech advanced manufacturing, product and component parts, and suppliers to the auto, computer, and aerospace and defense industry, says Gittell. This year, the region's fastest-growing sectors on a percent change basis include high tech (2.1 percent), professional and business services (2.0 percent), and private education and healthcare services (1.7 percent). Employment "is driven by our highly educated population and higher education infrastructure, institutions that are world leaders in research and innovation."

Doug Ray, development program manager/legislative liaison for the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development, notes that the Pine Tree State's targeted industries are biotechnology; aquaculture and marine technology; composite materials technology; environmental technology; advanced technologies for forestry and agriculture; manufacturing, including precision manufacturing; information technology; and financial services. He enthusiastically adds, "The big news here is that from January 2011 to March 2012 (according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics), Maine's private sector grew by 4,100 jobs!"

New Hampshire credits its low tax burden as an economic development advantage. The Washington, D.C.-based nonpartisan tax research group, the Tax Foundation, ranks the state in sixth place in its 2012 State Business Tax Climate Index. The state has no broad base personal income tax, no sales tax, no use tax, no inventory tax, no capital gains tax, no estate tax, no Internet tax, no professional service tax, and a low corporate income tax.

Albany International chose to move its corporate headquarters from New York to Rochester, N.H., last year. In the same city, construction is under way on a 275,000-square-foot facility for Safran USA and Albany Engineered Composites (AEC) that is expected to employ approximately 400 workers to manufacture composite engine components. AEC is a subsidiary of Albany International, which already employs about 225 workers at its existing Rochester, N.H., facility.

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