By Steve MacDonald
Earlier this week, the New Hampshire Office of Employment Security released an updated report on employment in New Hampshire. This latest iteration digs deep into the details of wages and numbers employed in various occupations throughout the Granite State. The good news is that wages are still increasing.
The mean average hourly wage for the entire state rose from $22.62/hour in 2014 to $24.03/hour in the 2016 report (+6.2%). The mean entry level wage in New Hampshire is $10.66/hour, $3.41 above the federal minimum wage. The median wage is up to $18.39/hour. And if you have “experience,” your average wage is $31.71/hour.
Region by Region
The Lebanon-Hanover region had the highest calculated average hourly compensation ($27.65/hour) followed by Nashua-Derry ($25.75/hour), Portsmouth ($25.35/hour), Manchester ($24.70/hour), Dover-Durham ($23.58/hour), Greater Concord ($23.48/hour), and Salem ($23.18/hour).
The lowest average hourly compensation was in the Conway-Wolfeboro region ($19.32/hour). Next up was Plymouth ($19.64), then North Country ($20.07), and Claremont-Charlestown ($20.19).
The remaining areas in the state fall into the $21.00+/hour range.
Conway-Wolfeboro saw the largest increase in hourly compensation of any region in the state, rising from $17.14 to $19.32, an 11.3% increase over the 2014 report. Pelham rose 9.96%, Laconia-Belmont rose 9.1%, and both Salem and the North Country saw average hourly wage increases of 8.5%
At the opposite end, the Plymouth regions average hourly rate of compensation increased by only 0.4%. The next lowest was Portsmouth (3.7%), then Keene (4%) and Claremont-Charlestown (4.3%).
The report also breaks down jobs in the state into 22 occupational groups and tracks data about the number of jobs in each group their average wage and what percentage they represent of total employment in the state.
Since the last report, the state employed an additional 15,170 people in these 22 occupational groups. (*these figures do not include job growth since June 2016.)
Only six of the 22 groups saw a decrease in the number of people in those occupations. In no particular order Business and Finance, Social Services, Legal, Personal Care, Construction, and Transportation all saw slight declines in the total number of people employed in these positions.
All 22 groups saw an increase in average hourly wages.
There were some minor changes in the percentage of total employment each of the 22 groups represent but only nine groups had a lower percentage or representation compared to the 2014 report.
Two of the three lowest hourly wage groups–Foodservice, Personal Care, and Building and Grounds maintenance–were among those nine who had fewer employed as a percentage of all occupations across the state than in the 2014 report.
Foodservice and Food prep or handling jobs continue to have the lowest average starting wage in the state at $8.43/hour. Sales and arts and entertainment are close behind, with slightly higher starting pay for janitorial and landscape positions. But as can be seen in the overall averages these are starting wages in low to no skill employment opportunities with on the job training. Every one of these sectors has grown it’s mean rate of hourly pay to over $10.00/hour.
And that should be a big deal. New Hampshire has no minimum wage. It uses the federal minimum wage. But every occupation in the survey is above that rate.
Only 15% of the population works at jobs that pay an average of less than $15.00 an hour; their combined average is closer to $12.50, 72% above the federal minimum wage, without any arbitrary state mandates dictating what the value of an hour of labor is worth to employers and employees.
Could things have been better? They can always be better. But the New Hampshire labor market has shown that it is more than capable of putting a fair price on labor based on the availability and level of experience of those in the workforce, even in a lagging economy. That there is still mobility among occupations in the Granite State. And that the government meddling with hourly wages is not necessary.
More information can be found at the links below: