New Hampshire—Tax Shangra La, Maybe--New England economic and population growth star no longer
Like high flying Daedelus flying too close to the sun losing his wings, New Hampshire for decades occupied a myth of self-reliance and no-to-low taxation as the steps to the warm sun of income growth and jobs. As a New Hampshire native and former state government policy specialist and administrator there, I can attest to the post-World War period being an unprecedented growth of population and jobs outstripping the other five New England states and often ranked the second fastest growing state east of Mississippi after the constant leader, Florida.
But something happened with the millennium with New Hampshire resident growth dropping to a point where the under a percent a year for 2000-2010 dropped to even less 2010-2013, 0.18% per year. This rate of growth means it would take the better part of this decade to surpass just one year of growth in the 1990s which was 1.15% a year.
For the years 2000-2013 New Hampshire trails the states it used to look down on—Massachusetts and Connecticut—in the rate of population growth. For some time it has been sort of a secret that Vermont, slow growing, yes, but a relative high tax and good government service state, records lower unemployment rates than the Granite State (lower this month too). Could it be that states with a full bore Obamacare (Massachusetts) and far better public transportation services—include Vermont and the rest of New England in that group—mean workers are less likely to leave for a tax-free state with inferior public services? There is perhaps not greater symbol of the impotence of New Hampshire when it mooches off Vermont and New Hampshire for free Amtrak services along the Connecticut River Vermonter service and the Downeaster from Portland to Boston which serves hundreds of New Hampshire commuters daily. Both services are supported not only by the prime sponsors—Vermont and Maine—but also by Massachusetts.
Maybe we need a few more years of data but it may well be that high property taxes (something New Hampshire dos not want to talk about) and social services make living in the Granite State quite unattractive after all. Maybe the fallen face of the Old Man of the Mountain applies to the State’s façade of self-reliance and austerian politics, a false façade now there for all to see.