Key Challenges Facing Granite State Workers Amid the COVID-19 Economic Recovery

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By NH Fiscal Policy Institute

Despite a strong economic recovery from the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, more than two years later, many Granite Staters face challenges that make affording everyday needs difficult.

Job growth in the last two years has been much faster than originally expected, mirroring other rebounding indicators of a strong economy, in large part due to swift federal policy action to provide both relief and financial support for the recovery.[1] In response to the unprecedented health and economic crisis created by the COVID-19 virus, the federal government engaged in a wide variety of significant policy actions to support working families both in New Hampshire and across the country. These initiatives ranged from direct payments to families and individuals to expanded nutrition assistance and enhanced unemployment benefits, and helped households weather the worst of the pandemic.[2]

However, many Granite Staters find themselves struggling with rising housing costs, limited child care options, and significant increases in living costs due to inflation as these key pandemic-related programs wind down or near their expiration. Among families with low- and moderate-incomes, and particularly those in rural areas of the state, these challenges have become even more pronounced. These workers earning middle or lower wages had seen their inflation-adjusted incomes recover from the 2007-2009 Great Recession in the few years before the pandemic, but were hit hardest and fastest by the COVID-19 crisis and are still disproportionally impacted by the consequences.

New Hampshire’s labor force remains thousands of workers below its pre-pandemic peak levels. Several key industries still have significantly fewer filled jobs than they did before the COVID-19 pandemic began, with historically low unemployment rates indicating a shortage of workers in the state. The pandemic-related impact of thousands of Granite Staters leaving the labor force has only heightened New Hampshire’s pre-pandemic workforce shortage challenges.

This Issue Brief examines key aspects of how workers in New Hampshire, as well as the economy as a whole, have fared relative to before the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. This report focuses particularly on central challenges facing Granite State individuals and families. This Issue Brief analyzes housing costs and availability, as well as disparities in access to formal child care services for children in New Hampshire. Additionally, this Issue Brief reviews changes in both employment and wages across the state and discusses opportunities to help address challenges facing working families across New Hampshire and uplift all Granite Staters.

Visit our website to download this Issue Brief in PDF format. 

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