Chamber study: N.H. ‘fair’ for economy-boosting laws

A new study from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce ranks New Hampshire good, but not great, in avoiding excessive legislation that could stifle the local economy.The chamber, a business lobbying group, funded “The Impact of State Employment Policies on Job Growth: A 50 State Review,” conducted by Seyfarth Shaw LLP and Navigant Economics, and found that states with the heaviest legal burdens on labor and employment regulations had slower job growth rates.New Hampshire, generally considered a desirable place to open a business and to work, with relatively low tax burdens and high quality of living, was placed in the study’s Tier 2, or fair, for having a moderate growth-prohibiting legislative climate.Where the researchers felt New Hampshire was too restrictive, with a negative impacting on economic growth, was “relatively wide-ranging state employment discrimination laws beyond federal requirements, reporting pay requirement and strict final paycheck rules within 72 hours of termination, and the state WARN-type notification requirements trigger for temporary or permanent layoffs of 25 or more employees, exceeding federal law.” The report also criticized the state’s minimum wage, unemployment insurance and collective bargaining laws.The Granite State was weighted positively for its few restrictions on employer inquiries into a job applicant’s history, the low ratio of labor and employment lawsuits per capita, and a relatively low wage ceiling for unemployment insurance taxes.What is curious is that the researchers, in painting with a broad brush the state’s economic engines, pointed to manufacturing and agriculture as being the key drivers, with tourism also playing a minor role, while the high-tech industry – with the state in other reports being cited as a top-sector location – was not mentioned.None of the New England states was placed in the Tier I, or “good” group. Along with New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont were ranked as Tier II. Connecticut, Maine and Massachusetts were ranked “poor,” or Tier III, for supposedly prohibitive business laws.Of Massachusetts, often ranked among the states with the highest development of technology and biomedical companies, the researchers said, “Massachusetts ranks in Tier III with a difficult climate for new job creation. The state has a long history in the commercial fishing, shipping and manufacturing industries. More recently, the economy has been driven by the electronics, communications, pharmaceutical and health-care industries.”States that made Tier I for possessing business and employment laws the researchers felt were conducive to economic growth were: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Virginia.A copy of the report may be viewed at . — CINDY KIBBE/NEW HAMPSHIRE BUSINESS REVIEW

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