First Published in NH Business Review, September 21, 2023
New Hampshire’s workforce constraint has become more severe since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, with more than three job openings for every unemployed worker in June 2023 compared to less than two openings per resident seeking work just before the pandemic.
With temporary effects from the pandemic waning, the state’s older demographic structure is likely the primary cause of stalled labor force growth.
Alongside enhanced access to child care and housing, retaining college-bound young people is critical to bolstering the workforce. One retention strategy may be to make attending college within the state more affordable, as young people who leave New Hampshire for education may be more likely to build their careers elsewhere. New Hampshire lost 56% of its four-year, college-bound high school graduates to other states in 2020, a higher percentage than every state except Vermont. Maine lost only 38%.