The 2019 update to the South Central Connecticut Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy has been released in draft form for public comment through May 26. South Central Connecticut, better known as REX (Regional Economic Xceleration) Development, aims to develop the region’s resiliency, diversity, and community while striving for the creation and implementation of business-friendly policies and projects that result in a more attractive business environment and higher quality of life for its residents.
The population change in the region’s municipalities (between 2010 and 2016) was negligible - an increase of 0.14%. The largest populations were in New Haven (130,405), Hamden (61,476), Meriden (60,203), West Haven (54,972), Milford (53,430), and Wallingford (44.989). The largest population losses during the six-year period were in Meriden (-665) and West Haven (-592) while the largest increases were in Milford (+671), New Haven (+626) and Hamden (+516).
The report also notes that unemployment in the region has declined every year since 2010, and was just one-tenth of a point higher in 2018 than the state unemployment rate. The region’s leading employers are Yale New Haven Health System, Yale University, Avangrid (United Illuminating and Southern Connecticut Gas), General Counselors Office, Laticrete International, Family First Life Insurance, Masonicare, Medtronic and Southern Connecticut State University.
Among the findings in the 22-page regional analysis:
Poverty continues to be a problem in the some of the larger communities (New Haven, West Haven and Meriden) where more than 10% of the population lives below the poverty line. Only two communities saw a decrease between 2010 and 2016 (Meriden and Wallingford).
Four municipalities in the region are identified as among the state’s 25 communities, as defined by the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development: #10 West Haven; #15 Meriden, #20 New Haven and #25 East Haven; as of 2017.
Both Connecticut and Greater New Haven are experiencing a slower growth in population relative to the rest of the United States.
From 2008 to 2016, the housing stock in New Haven County grew by 4.76% driven by residential investment in the cities. Since 2017, median sales prices for homes in New Haven County have increased by 7.5% from $200,000 to $215,000. The largest increase, 17%, was in Meriden. No other community saw an increase of more than 8%.
Disparities in wealth between urban and suburban towns is dramatic within the South Central Connecticut region. Woodbridge led the region with a median household income of approximately $137,000, while New Haven’s median household income was about $38,000 according to 2016 data.
The report also notes that New Haven County has experienced negative net migration with four Connecticut counties (Hartford, Middlesex, Litchfield and New London) as well as Suffolk and Middlesex counties in Massachusetts. New Haven County experienced net in-migration with Fairfield County as well as Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn and Westchester.
Efforts to attract millennials are given a boost by apartment rental costs that are significantly below major East Coast cities. New Haven is 61% less expensive than New York, 48% less than Boston and 27% less than Washington, DC., according to the report.
Academic Research and Development is a powerful economic driver in the region, the report points out. Beyond the medical and technological gains created by this research, spinoff companies are created in the private sector, with the associated economic impact of hiring employees, utilizing local goods and services, and serving as resources for the entrepreneurs and startups that are affiliated with a college or university. The report indicates that according to the Rankings by Total Academic R&D Expenditures published by the National Science Foundation, Greater New Haven colleges and universities have invested almost $5 billion in R&D between 2012 and 2017.
The region used in this analysis includes 15 municipalities in South Central Connecticut: Bethany, Branford, East Haven, Guilford, Hamden, Madison, Meriden, Milford, New Haven, North Branford, North Haven, Orange, Wallingford, West Haven and Woodbridge.