The Highest Stimulus Check Payments in New Hampshire: Unraveling the Myths and Reality

In the summer of 2020, whispers turned into headlines across New Hampshire: the state, known for its independent spirit and fiscal conservatism, had received the highest average stimulus check payments in the nation. Images of overflowing bank accounts and unbridled spending painted a picture of economic prosperity, a stark contrast to the national narrative of pandemic-induced hardship. But beneath this seemingly contradictory headline, a tapestry of complexities and truths waited to be unraveled. This article delves into the facts behind New Hampshire’s stimulus check payments, debunking myths and exposing the nuanced reality of economic assistance in the face of a global crisis.

Myth Busting: The Numbers Don’t Tell the Whole Story:

The claim that New Hampshire received the “highest” stimulus checks rests on a misunderstanding of the factors determining payment amounts. The CARES Act, which authorized the payments, allocated funds based on a complex formula considering factors like adjusted gross income, dependents, and filing status. While New Hampshire did experience economic challenges due to the pandemic, its overall economic indicators in 2020 were not significantly worse than other states. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, New Hampshire’s unemployment rate (5.2%) was among the lowest in the nation (6.3%). Similarly, poverty rates in New Hampshire (9.2%) were below the national average (11.6%). These figures suggest that while New Hampshire faced hardship, the “highest average payment” narrative was misleading and lacked context.

Beyond Averages: Individual Stories and Systemic Inequalities:

A closer look reveals the limitations of focusing solely on average payment amounts. Individual check sizes varied significantly within New Hampshire, driven by factors like income and family size. A single mother of two working a minimum-wage job in Nashua would receive a far larger check than a retiree on a fixed income in Hanover. This highlights the inherent limitations of relying on averages to paint a complete picture of economic assistance. Moreover, the narrative of New Hampshire as a state awash in stimulus dollars ignores the harsh realities faced by many residents, particularly in smaller towns and rural areas. The pandemic exacerbated existing inequalities, with limited access to broadband internet and financial services further isolating vulnerable populations from the benefits of the stimulus program.

The Limits of a Band-Aid: Beyond the Stimulus Check:

While the stimulus checks provided temporary relief for many, their effectiveness in addressing long-term economic disparities was limited. The influx of cash did not address systemic issues like inadequate healthcare access, affordable housing shortages, and limited job opportunities in rural areas. Additionally, concerns arose about the long-term impacts of the stimulus on inflation and national debt. This raises critical questions about the effectiveness of one-time payments compared to targeted policies that address the root causes of economic inequality.

Moving Forward: A Call for Informed Discussion and Action:

The story of New Hampshire’s stimulus checks serves as a cautionary tale against simplistic narratives and the dangers of misinformation. It underscores the need for informed discussions about economic policy and the importance of considering the diverse experiences of individuals and communities within a state. Moving forward, New Hampshirites must engage in critical conversations about the long-term solutions needed to address economic disparities and build a more equitable future for all. This requires continued investment in social safety nets, infrastructure development, and policies that promote economic opportunity and social mobility.


The myth of New Hampshire receiving the “highest” stimulus checks paints an incomplete picture of the state’s economic reality. While the payments provided temporary relief for many, they were not a panacea for deep-seated economic inequalities. Moving beyond the headlines, we must acknowledge the complexities of economic assistance and advocate for policies that address the root causes of poverty and hardship. Only through informed discussions and a commitment to long-term solutions can New Hampshire, and indeed the nation, build a more just and equitable future for all.

Additional Statistics:

  • Average stimulus check payment in New Hampshire: $2,224 (compared to the national average of $1,867)
  • Unemployment rate in New Hampshire in 2020: 5.2% (compared to the national average of 6.3%)
  • Poverty rate in New Hampshire in 2020: 9.2% (compared to the national average of 11.6%)
  • Percentage of New Hampshire residents with broadband internet access in 2020: 89.8% (compared to the national average of 92.9%)

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