N.H. jobless report 'best in 3 years'
The good news is that New Hampshire’s 5.4 percent unemployment rate in November was 1.5 percent lower than it was at the same time last year and the state has added some 17,000 jobs since November 2009. But the bad news is that the unemployment rate remains the same as it was in October month and, according to one measure, the state actually lost jobs between October and November. According to the measure of employed state residents (the numbers used to calculate the unemployment rate), the state gained 1,630 jobs compared in November. But it lost 4,000 when comparing the number of people working in the state according to the measure of nonfarm employment. Nevertheless, the nonfarm employment statistic shows a gain of 17,100 jobs over last year. Despite the apparent conflict, economist Russ Thibeault, president of Applied Economic Research in Laconia, is optimistic about the bigger picture. In fact, he said of the November numbers, "this is the best monthly report in scene three years." It’s clearly better than last year, when the seasonally adjust rate in New Hampshire was 6.9 percent. There are now 706,900 employed New Hampshire residents, 1,630 more than in October and 16,2101 more than last November. Aside from the financial service industry, which lost 1,500 jobs, there were gains in construction (1,500), professional and business services (4,300), leisure and hospitality (2,800) and manufacturing (3,100). "That was unexpected," said Thibeault, of the manufacturing gain. "We’ve been shedding manufacturing jobs every year." Thibeault said he had hoped that the job bleeding would stop, but he really didn’t expect that some of those jobs would return at this point. That was a pleasant surprise. Another concerning factor is the weak gain in the labor force year over year. It stood at 1,740, about a tenth of the job growth. That means most of the people hired were those who had been actively looking for work. So the unemployment rate might actually go up if those who have given up and are sitting on the sidelines start looking for work again. -- BOB SANDERS/NEW HAMPSHIRE BUSINESS REVIEW