Fifty States in Fifty Weeks: New Hampshire
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Each week this year (with the exception of Thanksgiving and Christmas) we will examine the fiscal and economic health of one of the U.S. states. Our seventh state in this series is New Hampshire. Here are the top five things (or more) you need to know about the Granite State:
- New Hampshire is home to the nation’s first potato and its first public library. It’s also home to one of the most underfunded pension systems in the country. The New Hampshire state worker pension system is only 59 percent funded. Its state worker health care program is two percent funded (the national average is eight percent funded). According to Pew, the state has $12.3 billion in liabilities, but is $7 billion short of cash. Between 2005 and 2010, the state failed to pay its full annual pension contribution twice. New Hampshire lawmakers were able to pass some pension reforms in 2009 and 2011.
- New Hampshire’s total state debt is between 25 and 30 percent of its gross state product, ranking it 22nd among the states (50th being the state the most in debt).
- At 5.7 percent, the state’s current unemployment rate is among the lowest in the country and is significantly lower than the national average. Like most states, the state’s jobless rate has decreased in the last year. Despite that fact, he state has lost about 4,500 jobs in the last year.
- With no individual income or sales tax, New Hampshire has a $56.6 billion economy. In 2011 (the latest year for which data is available), the economy contracted 1.5 percent, the 19th best showing in the nation. The economy grew 4.3 percent in 2010. The state is finding any way it can to grow: it’s the first in the nation to license nanobrewery operations.
- New Hampshire’s property tax burden is the highest in the country. One in every 1,518 New Hampshire homes are in foreclosure. (Rate from December 2012.) That rate is higher than Vermont’s – the state’s neighbor to the west; Maine’s – the state’s neighbor to the north; and Massachusetts’s – the state’s neighbor to the south.