While New Hampshire's 2.8 percent unemployment rate is largely a good thing — it's one of the nation's lowest — it also means the labor pool is shallow. It's created a squeeze for manufacturing companies in particular for two reasons: The industry's workforce is aging at a faster than average rate, while fewer young workers have the proper skills — or interest — to fill the void of retiring workers.
Some key facts on the state's manufacturing industry, based on state and federal data"
Manufacturing accounted for roughly 67,000 New Hampshire jobs in 2015, about 12.2 percent of the state's private sector jobs. That's down from a boom in the late 1990s, when the sector employed more than 103,000 workers. Still, New Hampshire employs slightly more manufacturing workers than the national average, with 12 here for every 10 nationally.
Nearly 60 percent of New Hampshire's manufacturing workers are over the age of 45, compared to 49 percent of manufacturing workers nationally. The industry is seeing the bulk of its workforce reach retirement age faster than others: Just 48 percent of the state's overall workforce is older than 45.
NEED FOR REPLACEMENTS
An estimated 80 percent of open manufacturing jobs in the next 10 years in New Hampshire will be to replace outgoing workers. Just 22 percent of manufacturing workers nationally are between the ages of 35 and 44, and that's even lower in New Hampshire. From 2004 to 2013, the number of New Hampshire manufacturing workers in that age range fell by nearly half.
On average, manufacturing production workers made nearly $47,000 annually in New Hampshire, slightly higher than the statewide average of almost $44,000. When adding in all employees of manufacturing companies, not just production workers, than average wage rises to more than $76,000.