Latest New Hampshire employment numbers show more jobs, higher wages

December jobless rate rose to 2.7%, but workforce keeps growing

Sign Text Closeup For Help Wanted With Red And White Colors By Entrance To Store Shop Business Building During Corona Virus Covid 19 PandemicNew Hampshire’s unemployment rate continues to creep up, but so do the number of jobs as well as wages, though still not enough to keep up with inflation even as prices cool off.

The state finished the year with a 2.7 percent unemployment rate, just a tad above November’s 2.6 percent, but slightly below last December’s, when it was 3 percent. Ever since summer, when it stood at 2 percent, the rate has been rising steadily.

But that doesn’t mean fewer people are working. The NH Department of Employment Security reported that there nearly 17,000 more jobs than last year at the same time – a 2.5 percent increase – and the total workforce increased by nearly 19,000.

The biggest gains in jobs came in professional and business services, where there were 6,900 more jobs – some 2,900 of them came in professional, scientific and technical services roles and another 4,000 came in administrative support. This could mean that offices are opening up, and more people are needed. The increase in tech jobs runs counter to the sector layoffs going on nationally, though most of those were announced in January.

The biggest increase in jobs percentage-wise came in arts, entertainment and recreation, which gained 2,100, or more than 20 percent. Are we finally seeing people going to shows and movies again?

Despite the holidays, retail trade stagnated, or actually fell slightly, down 900 jobs, mostly in transportation and warehousing. Indeed, employee hours in the larger trade category averaged 31.3 a week in December, 2.5 hours fewer than the year before, even though wages went up 4.8 percent.

On average, wages rose 3.6 percent, and people are working fewer hours per week but not much less (33.5 hours compared to 34.1.) Manufacturing workers’ wages went up the least, 2.4 percent. The biggest wage increase were those in professional and business services, a 14.2 increase, and that was one of the few categories with longer hours – 37.5 compared to 36.9 hours a year earlier. In that category, wages rose by 6.5 percent, still below November’s 7.1 percent inflation rate.

Categories: News