Sound familiar? New Hampshire’s unemployment rate dropped from 5.8% to 5.7% in March, but not due to increased employment. According to the Household Survey Data, the number of unemployed fell by 360 people, resulting in the .1 percentage point drop. However, the number of employed residents increased only by 20, while the labor force shrank by 340.[i]
While drop is small, it does mark the second month in a row of labor force contraction in the state.
Looking at the historical data over the past three years, we see that something similar happened just last year: a strong steady increase in the size of the labor force, followed by a short contraction. However, the current situation differs in terms of the abruptness, as well as the severity of the contraction. It remains to be seen if this is a part of a longer term trend seen nationally since October, or if growth will resume.
Turning to the Establishment Data, the state saw 900 non-farm jobs created. Seeing the largest gains were Professional and Business Services (+1200), Retail Trade (+600) and Construction (+600). The areas seeing the largest losses were Durable Goods (-800), Government (-600) and Leisure and Hospitality (-500)
The Nashua and Rochester-Dover Areas each saw 200 new jobs, Portsmouth saw 900, while Manchester lost 200.
[i] While the numbers do match up they represent net movement, not gross movement. For example, of the 20 newly employed people, not all of them may have been previously unemployed; some may have been new entrants.