Three Connecticut Cities Among Nation’s Top 300 Fastest Growing Economies

Bridgeport is not only Connecticut’s largest city by population, it is the city which has expanded – in socioeconomic terms – more than any other in the state between 2008 and 2014, according to an analysis released by WalletHub. Bridgeport ranked at number 230 nationally, one of three Connecticut communities – all in Fairfield County – that reached the top 300 across the country.  The others are Stamford, ranked at number 265, and Norwalk, at number 293.Bridgeport_CT

In 2014, the U.S. recorded its lowest population gain since the Great Depression. Growth stood at .73 percent, largely in contrast with the 5 percent of the 1990s, a period of prosperity, WalletHub pointed out.  Demographer William H. Frey of the Brookings Institution attributed the decline to the economic downturn. Not only did the crisis deter job-seeking migrants from flocking to the U.S., but it also discouraged couples from having children, he noted. Meanwhile, population numbers shifted across states, creating short- and long-term effects on local economies, WalletHub indicated.

In order to identify the cities that have expanded most rapidly in socioeconomic terms between 2008 and 2014, WalletHub compared 515 U.S. cities of varying sizes across 10 key metrics, ranging from population growth to unemployment rate decrease.

The other Connecticut cities that ranked on the overall list of cities were New Britain (344), Danbury (355), Hartford (374), New Haven (425), and Waterbury (504).

Eleven of the twelve top-ranked cities – regardless of size - were all in Texas, led by Odessa, Frisco, Midland, Mission College Station, and Killeen.  When the list was broken down by city population, Connecticut did not have a top-100 city in economic growth.wh-best-badges-150x1503

On the list of small cities, Norwalk ranked at 109, New Britain at number 129 and Danbury at number 132.  Among mid-size cities, Bridgeport was ranked at number 110, Stamford ranked at number 123, Hartford was at number 187 and New Haven and Waterbury were at 212 and 239 respectively.  Midsize cities are those with between 100,000 and 300,000 people; small cities have fewer than 100,000 people.

Large cities with the most growth were Austin, Miami, Fort Worth, Denver and Corpus Christi.  At the bottom of the large city list were Mesa, St. Louis, Tucson, Cleveland and Detroit.  Leading the list of mid-size cities were five Texas communities; on the list of small cities Texas had four of the five top-ranked communities exhibiting the most growth.

The factors considered included socio-demographic landscape (population growth, working-age population growth, and poverty rate decrease), and jobs and economic environment (median household income growth, unemployment rate decrease, job growth, ratio of full-time to part-time jobs, and growth of regional GNP per capita).

mapJoan Fitzgerald, Professor of Public Policy and Urban Affairs at Northeastern University, told WalletHub: “It is not an accident that many of the fastest growing cities have thriving high tech and biotech sectors along with financial services and usually a strong health care sector.  But another priority has to be balance.  In many cities, manufacturing loses out over other uses.”

Added Boston University Professor of Economics Kevin Lang: “it is not so much that population growth encourages employment as that employment opportunities encourage population growth.  Of course, this, in turn, creates further employment opportunities.”

Last month, the  Bridgeport, Norwalk and Stamford metro area ranked second nationally among the top ten best places for female entrepreneurs, in an analysis by  Nerdwallet, a personal finance information service geared toward helping consumers make informed financial decisions.  That ranking analyzed the U.S. Census Bureau’s survey of business owners and data from the Small Business Administration to come up with the national rankings. The top ranked city for female entrepreneurs was Boulder.  Joining Norwalk-Stamford-Bridgeport in the top five were Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, Santa Cruz -Watsonville, and Santa Rosa.  Researchers found that seven of the top 10 metro areas for female business owners -- based on business climate, local economic health and financing opportunities -- are in California or Colorado.

The data sources used in the WalletHub analysis included the U.S. Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics and Bureau of Economic Analysis.



Modest Economic Growth Seen in 2013 Amidst Competing Indicators

The Connecticut Economic Digest, assessing the prospects for the state’s economy in the new year, has unveiled a series of observations and analyses that suggest it may be a challenging twelve months, but not without the possibility of progress, and an overall prediction of “modest growth”.  The first issue of 2013 of the journal produced by the state Departments of Labor and Department of Community and Econoecondigestmic Development, notes a range of factors that could impact economic prospects, among them:

  • Tourism: "Last year the state launched a multi-million-dollar, two-year marketing initiative to develop, foster and stimulate the state’s brand identity and bolster business and tourism. Tourism has a significant impact on the state’s economy, estimated by the University of Connecticut’s Center for Economic Analysis at $11.5 billion every year through total traveler and tourism revenue and $1.15 billion in state and local tax revenue. Travel and tourism creates more than 110,000 jobs throughout the state, or 6.5% of Connecticut’s total employment."
  • Large businesses: "The state’s “First Five” and “Next Five” job initiatives have promised substantial growth in employment and capital investment in Connecticut. At year’s end, nine business deals had been announced as part of the ongoing expansion program, which leveraged $1.3 billion in private investment. Between the nine companies — Cigna, ESPN, NBC, Alexion Pharmaceuticals, CareCentrix, Sustainable Building Systems LLC, Deloitte, Bridgewater Associates, and Charter Communications — up to 4,748 jobs are expected to be created and 11,087 retained."
  • Small Businesses: "The Small Business Express Program (EXP) provides loans and grants to Connecticut’s small businesses to spur job creation and growth and has seen vigorous activity since its inception. The state has assisted 435 companies with more than $60 million in loans and grants. With this much-needed capital, up to 1,523 jobs are expected to be created and 4,080 retained."
  • Housing: "The state’s housing market languished in 2011. Residential permit data through September 2012, however,  had grown by 32.2% compared to the same period the previous year. New homes sales grew 5.7% in September, and housing starts 3.6% in October, the highest level in four years."

The Digest noted that “the Connecticut recession from March 2008 through February 2010 saw the loss of 117,500 jobs. Jobs regained numbered 30,700 (26.1%) since February 2010 when the recovery began through November 2012, including 1,900 in the year 2012 through November (0.12%) seasonally adjusted since the beginning of the year. The private sector has regained 42,000 (38.1%) of the 110,200 private jobs lost in that same recessionary period.”  It is forecast that Connecticut will gain about 5,600 jobs or 0.3% in 2013.

In addition, the Digest pointed out that “The state’s unemployment rate, after peaking at 9.4% for five consecutive months in 2010 and falling rather steadily to 7.7% in March and April 2012, jumped unexpectedly through last summer to 9.0% and declined to 8.8% in November.” The New England Economic Partnership forecasts Connecticut’s unemployment rate will be 7.7 % in 2013.