New IRS Migration Data Shows Net Out-Migration in New Hampshire

Chart Showing New Hampshire IRS Net Migration 1995 to 2009

Today, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released their 2009 estimates of taxpayer migration. This is important because people “voting with their feet” is a barometer of the health of a state’s economy (and thus, of public policy).

The chart below shows the net migration in New Hampshire of taxpayers (a good proxy for households), exemptions (a good proxy for people) and adjusted gross income (a good proxy for household income).

Since 2006, both households and people are showing net out-migration.  For the first time over the 1995 to 2009 time-period, income has gone negative as well. This net out-migration will create headwinds for the New Hampshire economy.

However, it is interesting to note that this net out-migration trend is not being driven by more households leaving New Hampshire. In fact, the number of out-migrant households has dropped since 2006.

Rather, the number of in-migrating households has dramatically declined. From 1995 to 2005, the average number of in-migrating households was 22,905.  From 2006 to 2009, the average number of in-migrating households was 19,311–a decline of 3,594 households.

As such, this net out-migration data is less a reflection of New Hampshire’s economy as it is a reflection of the Massachusetts economy since the majority of New Hampshire’s in-migration has historically been from the Bay State.

More specifically, the state of the housing market. The Boston housing market was one of the first in the country to go into recession. Since fewer people were able to sell their homes, then there were fewer people capable of relocating to New Hampshire.

Still, there are too many people deciding to leave New Hampshire. As our previous research has shown, New Hampshire suffers from a persistent net out-migration of people to right-to-work states. With right-to-work, New  Hampshire could keep more of its own residents home.

So if you live in a district where  your Representative voted against the recent right-to-work veto over-ride, you may want to ask them what their plan is to keep New Hampshire residents from leaving for greener, right-to-work pastures.

New Hampshire’s Population Stalling and Aging

Recently the U.S. Census Bureau released their updated intercensal state population estimates by age and race. These new estimates account for the new population counts as determined by the 2010 population census. There are two items that I found of interest in the new data.

First, overall population in New Hampshire, as shown in the first chart below, has stalled out since 2008. Also shown in the first chart is the median age which is soaring. In 2000 the median age was 37.2 years but has increased by 11 percent to 41.1 years in 2010.

Second, the composition of New Hampshire’s population by age cohort, as shown in the second chart below, shows shrinking numbers of  young people and growing numbers of retired people.

Between 2000 and 2010, the number of people under the age of 18 dropped by 8 percent to 286,836 from 310,390. This is somewhat misleading since the drop is actually greater because the drop did not begin  until 2002 when the under 18 population peaked at 312,719.

At the same time, the number of people over the age of 65 increased by 20 percent to 178,625 from 148,468.

Overall, this is a very disturbing picture of New Hampshire’s demographics. Without strong in-migration from other states, New Hampshire’s future workforce will be smaller and older which will create formidable headwinds in the effort to generate sustainable economic growth.

Economic Benefits of the “New Hampshire Advantage”

The data for chart below is taken from the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia’s State Coincident Index. The chart shows that New Hampshire’s economy has outperformed every other New England state since July 1992 (the base year of the index = 100). Massachusetts comes in second followed by Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont and Maine.

However, New Hampshire can’t sit still. The state government still has plenty of work to do, especially by enacting right-to-work and reforming the pension system.