CONCORD, N.H. — New U.S. Census estimates show New Hampshire achieving its largest annual population gain in more than a decade, though the numbers don’t compare to the booming 1980s and 1990s.
For many years, New Hampshire was the fastest-growing state in the Northeast, largely due to people moving in from Massachusetts. But that domestic in-migration slowed considerably in the last decade since the recession, and in some years, more people moved out than moved in.
The most recent data show New Hampshire migration has turned positive again in recent years. Census Bureau estimates released last week show the population grew by 7,800 between July 2016 and July 2017, a 60 percent increase in population growth over the previous year. Migration accounted for nearly all the growth. In the most recent year, the number of people moving in from other states was 4,700 higher than the number moving out, compared with just 1,800 in the previous year.
The new residents include, Doug Lindsay, 45, who grew up in New Hampshire but had lived just south of Boston for the past 17 years before he and his family moved to Bedford in June.
“It was such a grind,” said Lindsay, who now enjoys a five-mile commute to his environmental consulting job while his wife teaches piano and their daughter settles into her new school.
“We just wanted a change in lifestyle, and the convenience of Manchester Airport if I need to travel for work,” he said. “It’s a wonderful town, and easily located to get to my parents and my job.”
New Hampshire tends to receive talented, well-educated people in its migration stream, said Ken Johnson, senior demographer at the University of New Hampshire’s Carsey School, so the new numbers are encouraging.
“It’s good news for the state in the sense that labor markets are so tight,” he said.
In contrast, there were only 900 more births than deaths, contributing little to the population gain. Births have been decreasing because there are fewer women of child-bearing age, while deaths are increasing because of the state’s aging population and a significant increase in drug overdose deaths, Johnson said.
Neighboring Maine and Vermont also showed some population growth according to the latest figures, but demographic trends are slightly different there. Vermont’s population grew by 303 people, births exceeded deaths by 310, and more people left Vermont than moved there from other states, though that difference was less than it was the previous year. As in New Hampshire, an increase in domestic in-migration accounted for nearly all of Maine’s population increase of 5,675, though state continued to have more deaths than births.