By Rob Roper
Young people are flocking to New Hampshire. What do they have that we don’t? Perhaps the better question is, what does New Hampshire not have that Vermont does?
Gov. Phil Scott made Vermont’s demographic crisis a focal point, stating at one point that he would like to see our state population rise to 700,000 (from 620,000) by the end of a decade. Our population woes have been in the spotlight for a long time. The Ethan Allen Institute published “Off the Rails,” a warning on the topic, in 2006. However, no policy or set of policies since then has done anything to help the situation. We continue to age, we continue to lose working age adults, and, when they leave, they take their school age kids with them, so our K-12 population has dropped by 30,000 over the past two decades.
This is no longer the case next door in New Hampshire. Although our neighbor to the east did suffer a loss of young, working age people during and after the 2008 recession, now the Nashua Telegraph reports, “Young adults moving to the Granite State.” Analyzing census data, the Telegraph concludes that between 2013 to 2017, roughly 5,900 people moved to New Hampshire from other parts of the country each year, with a noticeable increase in the last three years. Moreover, the article states:
The transformation was most significant among people in their 20s with an average annual migration gain of 1,200 between 2013 and 2017, compared to an average annual loss of 1,500 from 2008 to 2012.
Additionally, during the same period, the net annual migration gain nearly doubled among people in their 30s.
So, how come New Hampshire is successful in seducing twenty- and thirty-somethings while Vermont is one of only two states to see a net decline in population? Maybe — just maybe — the fact that New Hampshire has no sales tax and no income tax has something to do with this — and the fact that New Hampshire lawmakers have gone out of their way to make the state more business-friendly by lowering business taxes and reducing regulations.
Yes, the fact that southern New Hampshire is a long but doable commute to Boston is an advantage Vermont does not have and cannot replicate, but not everybody looking for an alternative to living in a metropolis like Boston or New York wants or needs to commute. Many are just looking for a place with a lower cost of living that still has opportunities to build a career. New Hampshire is working to make sure they offer both. Vermont politicians seem hell bent on offering neither. We can see the results.