The NH Fiscal Policy Institute’s (NHFPI) sixth annual conference, Investments to Sustain a Vibrant Economy, was held Friday, February 22 and drew more than 145 attendees from the state’s government, nonprofit, and business sectors to the event, which examined state budget issues as well as trends impacting residents and the economy.
According to a statement, the event addressed key topics of concern to the state, including health, housing, higher education, and caretaking for children and family members and also addressed how residents are faring in the post-recession economy, and opportunities for investments and policy changes that may contribute to their health, well-being, and economic prosperity.
“When we talk about our state economy, and our workforce, we should be mindful that it is Granite State residents who make it all happen, and that all of the issues discussed here today contribute to their quality of life and their economic prosperity. Their well-being is an essential component to our efforts to sustain a vibrant economy,” says NHFPI Executive Director AnnMarie French.
The conference panel discussion addressed progress and opportunities in the areas of health, housing, education, and caretaking workforce supports. Panel topics included ongoing efforts to address the opioid crisis, the new ten-year mental health plan, health care access and delivery, and child welfare; higher education and initiatives to bolster workforce development; housing market challenges and the need to increase the supply of affordable housing; and access to affordable child care and paid leave, which aid care givers in maintaining employment and contributing to the state's workforce.
Panelists also discussed concern for the many NH families who have yet to recover from the last recession. “While median household income in New Hampshire is about $73,000, more than one in five households have less than $35,000 per year in income, and one in three have less than $50,000 per year,” says NHFPI Policy Analyst Phil Sletten. “While the economy has grown and helped to increase median household income, there are still many people with very limited means.”
The keynote address, presented by Jeffrey P. Thompson, director of the New England Public Policy Center and senior economist and policy advisor for the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, addressed economic indicators for New England's regional economy and key takeaways New Hampshire should consider as the state strives to maintain a strong economy in the years ahead.
“The region’s economy has grown steadily since the financial crisis, with total output and employment rising steadily, and unemployment at near-historic lows,” says Thompson. “New Hampshire does face a number of challenges, both in the near term and over the longer term. In the immediate future, the state faces a shortage of workers. With unemployment so low, it is hard for firms hoping to grow and expand to find the workers they need.”
“Over the longer term, there are a number of issues the state will need to address, including infrastructure in dire need of repair, and real affordability issues in housing and for higher education in the state,” Thompson noted. “Along with the other Northern New England states, New Hampshire is also grappling with important demographic shifts – these states are becoming older – now standing out as having among the oldest populations in the country. Being able to attract and retain younger workers will prove crucial to their economies as well as their ability to finance vital public goods and services.”
Conference presentation slides are available online at NHFPI’s conference web page: http://nhfpi.org/news-events/nhfpi-2019-annual-conference