Women’s Economic Status in Connecticut Among Best in Nation, But Still Insufficient

Women are faring better in Connecticut than in most states in the nation, according to a new analysis that focused on data in two central areas of everyday life – Employment & Earnings and Poverty & Opportunity. Connecticut ranked 4th in the Employment and Earnings category, earning a B+, and 4th in the Poverty and Opportunity category, with a B- grade.

Status of Women in the States is a project of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, a comprehensive project that presents and analyzes data for all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The Institute suggests that the data can be used “to raise awareness, improve policies, and promote women’s equality.”

Connecticut’s grade for women’s Employment & Earnings, B+, has improved since the 2004 Status of Women in the States report.  Its grade for women’s Poverty & Opportunity, B-, has dropped since 2004.

In the subcategories of Employment and Earnings, Connecticut ranked Connecticut ranked 2nd in median annual earnings for women employed full-time, 5th in the percent of all employed women in managerial or professional occupations, 13th in the percent of women in the labor force, and 38th in the earnings ratio between women and men employed full-time, year-round.

The Employment & Earnings Index measures states on women’s earnings, the gender wage gap, women’s labor force participation, and women’s representation in professional and managerial occupations. The top states were District of Columbia, Maryland, Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York.

Women working full-time, year-round have the highest earnings in the District of Columbia, where women’s median annual earnings are $65,000. Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, and New Jersey are tied for second, with women in those states earning $50,000 at the median.

In the Poverty and Opportunity subcategories, Connecticut ranked 2nd in the percent of women age 18 and older above poverty, 5th in the percent of women age 25 and older with a Bachelor’s degree or higher, 10th in the percent of women age 18-64 with health insurance, and 29th in the percent of businesses owned by women.

New Hampshire, Connecticut, Maryland, and New Jersey have the highest rates of women living above poverty in the country at 89.2 percent, 88.4 percent, 88.1 percent, and 88.1 percent, respectively.

The report noted that women in Connecticut aged 16 and older who work full-time, year-round have median annual earnings of $50,000, which is 76.9 cents on the dollar compared with men who work full-time, year-round. Hispanic women earn just 47 cents for every dollar earned by White men, according to the report. According to the report’s analysis, if employed women in Connecticut were paid the same as comparable men, their poverty rate would be reduced by more than half and poverty among employed single mothers would be cut in half.

In Connecticut, 32.7 percent of businesses in 2012 were owned by women, up from 28.1 percent in 2007.  The report also indicates that 94.2 percent of Connecticut’s women aged 18 to 64 have health insurance coverage, which is above the national average for women of 89.4 percent.

The report, published in March 2018, concludes that “Women in Connecticut have made considerable advances in recent years but still face inequities that often prevent them from reaching their full potential.”

Disparities Continue As Uneven Economic Recovery Challenges Children and Families; Changes Urged

Connecticut lost 85,358 jobs during the recession, which technically ended nearly seven years ago. The state has continued to hemorrhage manufacturing jobs, however, and industries dependable before the crash—particularly those in finance and health care—grew more slowly or not at all. According to a new report by Connecticut Voices for Children, 97.7 percent of Connecticut’s net job losses were in mid- or high-wage industries and 51 percent of the job losses occurred in the manufacturing and construction sectors, with another 15 percent of job losses occurring in retail trade.

The financial disparity in the state’s population is more stark than ever, the report said.  “Over the past thirty years, incomes for the bottom 99 percent grew by just 14.5 percent, while the incomes of the top 1 percent swelled by 290.8 percent. As a result of this lopsided growth—a period in which the top 1 percent captured 71.6 percent of all income—incomes of the top 1 percent are now 42.6 times greater than the bottom 99 percent.”

The report stresses that many Connecticut working families have been left out of the economic recovery. “As the share of low-wage jobs rises, so does the challenge of raising a family,” the report states. “The jobs created in low-wage sectors not only pay less, but often provide less flexibility, less predictability and fewer benefits than jobs past.”voices

In the report. Connecticut Voices for Children points out that the combination of an increase in the share of low-wage jobs, slow wage growth and persistently high unemployment for minorities and workers without a college education threaten the long term well-being of the state. Data highlighted points out that “black and Hispanic workers in Connecticut make median hourly wages that are, respectively, $7.25 and $8 less than white workers’—a gap that has widened since before the Great Recession.”

Among the recommendations:  raise the minimum wage.  Raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour would offer relief to 336,000 workers, the report points out, which would help those the state's recovery has left farthest behind. Breaking down the demographics, the research report indicated that 60 percent of benefitting workers would be women; 31.8 percent of all black workers and 37.5 percent of all Hispanic workers would benefit.

“Changes in the state economy pose challenges for low wage workers seeking to give their children the best possible start in life,” says Ellen Shemitz, Executive Director of Connecticut Voices for Children. “Higher unemployment and lower wages for workers of color exacerbate existing disparities in opportunity, with significant implications for both the competitiveness and fairness of our state’s economy.”

chart-3The report documents a long term shift in job and wage trends in Connecticut, with almost half of all jobs created since the start of the recovery in low-wage industries. Since 2001, the share of industries that typically pay low-wages has increased by 20 percent, while high-wage industry employment has decreased by 13 percent.

At the same time, unemployment has returned to pre-recession levels for white and college educated workers, but unemployment for workers of color and those without a college education have yet to recover.  Despite years of sustained job growth, these workers face unemployment rates that are three times higher than whites.

“Connecticut’s jobs swap has implications for individual family economic well-being and for the state’s overall revenue sufficiency,” explained Derek Thomas, Fiscal Policy Fellow at Connecticut Voices for Children and report co-author. “The first decade in the 21st-century – which includes the loss of manufacturing jobs in the early 2000s as well as the vast job losses during the Great Recession – has left the state with a sizeable high-wage jobs deficit.”

Among the reports’ key findings:

  • Since 2010, unemployment has steadily declined for white and college educated workers, but not for workers of color and those without a college education. Unemployment for workers of color is nearly triple than for whites.
  • Underemployment remains stubbornly high; the rate of part-time employees that would want to work full-time and workers that have given up on their job search in the past year is two times higher today that it was in 2007.
  • Since 2001, the share of private-sector jobs in low-wage industries has increased by 20 percent, while the share of private-sector jobs in high-wage industries has decreased by 13 percent. Nearly half of new private sector jobs since 2010 are in low-wage industries.
  • The median and bottom 10 percent of wage-earners have seen their wages decline by more than 2 percent since 2002, while the top 10 percent have experienced growth of more than 11 percent.
  • Black workers’ median hourly wage is $8 lower than white workers and Hispanic workers’ median hourly wage is $7.25 lower than white workers.

graph-unSince the workplace is meeting fewer of the needs of children and families, Connecticut Voices for Children is urging state policy makers to take action to bridge the gap between wages and the growing cost of raising a family. The report recommends five key policy initiatives:

  • Restore the earned income tax credit for low income workers to its original 2011 levels, allowing low wage workers to retain more of what they have earned
  • Raise the minimum wage to $15, allowing low wage workers to cover their families’ basic needs
  • Expand high-quality early childhood education to remove barriers to employment for parents and better prepare future generations of workers
  • Strengthen infrastructure investments to ensure economic competitiveness and economy-boosting jobs
  • Reform property taxes for a more equitable education system

Because workers of color are overrepresented in the low-wage industries that have driven the state’s job recovery, racial and ethnic wage gaps have widened. “The growth in low-wage industries is a double whammy for working families – not only do they pay less, but they also lack the benefits, predictability and flexibility of jobs past,” says Ray Noonan, Associate Fiscal Policy Fellow at Connecticut Voices for Children and report co-author.

Connecticut Voices for Children is a research-based policy think tank based in New Haven.  The organization’s mission is to promote the well-being of all of Connecticut's young people and their families by advocating for strategic public investments and wise public policies. To achieve these objectives, Connecticut Voices for Children produces “high quality research and analysis, promotes citizen education, advocates for policy change at the state and local level and works to develop the next generation of leaders.”

Economic Report Finds “Significant Shift” in Destinations for State Exports

Connecticut has become more reliant on exports to drive gross state product growth during the past decade, according to a new report prepared by the Connecticut Economic Resource Center (CERC). In 2003, Connecticut exports as a percent of Gross State Product (GSP) stood at 4.5 percent, increasing to 6.6 percent of GSP in 2013. That growth, CERC points out, makes it “important to analyze Connecticut exports trends to understand how exports will impact Connecticut’s economy in the future.”commerce chart

In 2014, approximately 46 percent of Connecticut exports were comprised of transportation equipment merchandise, which includes aerospace equipment. And approximately 45 percent of Connecticut exports went to four countries: France, Canada, Germany, and Mexico, according to the report, Eye on Economics – Export Trends for Connecticut.

Although Connecticut still has strong trade ties with Europe and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) countries (Canada, Mexico), there has been “an obvious shift in export growth among its trading partners.”   From 2013 to 2014, Connecticut exports to South America and Asia increased overall, while exports to Europe, Oceania, and the rest of North America (mostly Canada and Mexico) were “generally flat.”

From 2003 to 2014, Connecticut exports to Asia increased by 182 percent, faster than exports to any other region, according to the data.   Economic growth in Asia was primarily driven by growth in China.exports

The shift in Connecticut export locations “can be partially explained by demand changes in regions that Connecticut trades with,” the report explains, citing changes in the appetite for exports in Europe and Asia. Europe, for example, has “experienced economic weakness since 2008 and has not fully recovered. It has been particularly hit hard by credit market constraints and unemployment, which has reduced consumptions levels, and thus demand for imported merchandise, the CERC report pointed out.

Looking ahead, the CERC analysis anticipates that Connecticut exports “may slow or remain flat” because of “weaker demand in Europe, where the majority of Connecticut exports currently go to; and Asia, which received the second largest amount of Connecticut exports in 2014.”

CERC logoCERC is a nonprofit corporation and public‐private partnership that provides clients with objective research, marketing and economic development services. The organizations mission is to “provide services consistent with state strategies, leveraging Connecticut’s unique advantages as a premier business location.”

The report was developed by the CERC Research Department, including Alissa DeJonge, Carmel Ford and Matthew Ross.

Higher Percentage of Part-time Workers in CT Than New York, New Jersey, Lower Than New England

Connecticut's percentage of part-time workers (22.2 percent) outpaces much of the Northeast, South, Midwest and West, according to the latest Connecticut Economic Digest (CED), produced by the state Department of Labor and Department of Economic and Community Development. In the first examination of part-time employment in more than a decade, the publication noted that part-time employment in Connecticut numbered 383,000 - 69.5 percent of which (266,000) was women. This statewide share is among the highest in the country, which had a 50-state average of 64 percent.

part time chartConnecticut’s part-time employment share of 22.2 percent is the lowest in New England but considerably greater than neighboring states in the tri-state area, which have employment shares respectively of 17.6 percent (New York) and 17.9 percent (New Jersey), the analysis by the state Department of Labor indicated.

Part-time employment is all employment that amounts to less than 35 hours per week. Since 1997 it has averaged about 20 percent of total employment in Connecticut and fell to 18.6 percent in 2000, according to the CED, before climbing.

In recent years it has gradually trended upward and was 22.2 percent of employment in 2012, the most recent year of annual average datCEDa and the basis for the analysis. The breakdown of hours worked shows that Connecticut has less under 35 hours per week employment than other New England states but more than the Northeast region overall. Part-time employment was 23.3% of all New England employment in 2012, higher than any other census division in the country. The other eight census divisions averaged 19.3% with the West- South Central division lowest at 16.4%.

While those choosing to work part time remain the bulk of part-time workers, the number of those working less than full time has grown since 2005 as more workers have their hours cut by employers or were unable to find full-time jobs during or after the recession. From 2009 to 2011, the number of workers who wanted full-time employment but could only find part-time jobs rose 37.5 percent to 33,000 from 24,000, Hartford Business Journal reported. part time 2

The report points out, however, that a majority of part-time employment in Connecticut is due to voluntary reasons, and not a result of prevailing economic conditions. In 2012, voluntary part-time employment in Connecticut was 76.4 percent of all part-time employment, in line with the 50-state average of 76.8 percent.

The industries with the lowest average weekly hours worked are leisure and hospitality, other services, and education and health services. In 2013, these industries averaged 25.8, 30.9, and 31.2 work hours per week, according to the Connecticut Economic Digest report issued in May.


CT Should Look to New York, Aging Workforce, Urban Centers to Rebuild Economy

Connecticut would be foolish not to take greater advantage of the fact that nearly one-third of the state is within the financial orbit of New York City as it looks to rebuild its economic strength – while not overlooking the potential for entrepreneurial activity across the state.

Those were among the lead suggestions of a panel of economists and entrepreneurs at the University of Hartford looking at job prospects for today’s 20-somethings, in a program sponsored by CT Mirror.

Daniel Kennedy, Senior Economist in the Office of Research at the state Department of Labor emphasized that the strongest economic growth in the state in the years to come will be in Fairfield County, and evidence of that trend is already present in the current economic recovery.

Wayne Vaughn, president of Hartford-based Fuscient, which he launched in 1997, said the state should “play to its strengths,” in looking to Fairfield County.  He said that New York City's immense economy "bleeds over into one-third of our state."  He also called on the state’s colleges and universities to step up efforts to match students with mentors in the business community, to improve their workforce readiness.

The state’s college graduates should not sell the state short, offered Katelyn Anton, Community Manager of New Haven-based Independent Software, and a key contributor to Whiteboard, a popular blog for the technology and entrepreneurial community in the state.  “Connecticut is one of the ripest locations in the world,” for start-up ventures, she said, panelnoting the growth of co-working spaces in New Haven, Hartford, Bridgeport, Manchester and other communities, and the numerous incubator opportunities that individuals “can tap into.”

Connecticut Business and Industry Association (CBIA) economist and vice president Peter Gioia predicted that the state’s economy is “on the cusp of turning the corner,” noting that between 15 and 20 percent of today’s workforce will be retired within five years – creating job vacancies and opportunities for young people.  He predicted that as the workforce ages out of the market, the state’s workforce will need electrical line workers, plumbers, electricians, commercial loan officers, actuaries and financial planners, and some of that need is already apparent.

Gioia praised the state’s recent efforts to bolster the University of Connecticut and the state’s community colleges, underscoring the correlation between “where students go to school and where they get their first job.”  If students stay in the state for college, Connecticut businesses will ultimately benefit.

Kennedy said the state’s prolonged economic recovery is characterized by continued “demand deficient unemployment,” which is more structural than merely a reaction to the national downturn that began in 2008.  He indicated that even as some sectors are improving, many millennials remain underemployed -college graduates working in service, rather than professional, industries.

“More people are working, but they’re not making as much,” said Orlando Rodriguez, a senior policy fellow at Connecticut Voices for Children.  “For every job we lose in the financial industry, it takes eight and a half jobs in the restaurant industry.”

Rodriguez also raised a cautionary note, stating that Connecticut should be particularly concerned about young people in the state’s urban centers who do not attend college, and often are unable to obtain a first job. While statewide unemployment hovers around 8 percent, it can run as high as 40 percent among 18-24 year olds in Bridgeport and other urban communities. “Connecticut’s future,” Rodriguez said, “is in urban areas.”

Gioia was strongly critical of Congressional inaction on immigration reform, stating that the nation’s economy would be strengthened by a comprehensive policy.  “Immigrants are much more likely to start a business, and become net employers of Americans.”  He said the policy of educating foreign students, but not permitting them to then remain in the U.S., as “ridiculous.”  He also cited Canada as an example of a nation that has been more welcoming of immigrants, to the benefit of the nation’s economy.

Vaughn said that while his biggest challenge in doing business in Connecticut is retaining talent, the growth of technology in business transactions offers businesses here significant opportunities.  “Where your business is located doesn’t dictate who your customers are,” he said.

The discussion was the second of nine panels on a range of topics sponsored by The Connecticut Mirror to be held around the state in coming months.  It was moderated by Brett Ozrechowski, CEO-Publisher of the CT News Project, which operates CT Mirror.  Next month, discussions will be held  Nov. 7 at Fairfield University focused on measuring good teaching and Nov. 18 at the University of New Haven on the topic of the clean energy economy.

Manufacturing Goes High Tech; Key Segment of CT Economy

Factory jobs in Connecticut slumped from 477,000 in 1969 – accounting for about one-third of total employment in the state – to just 174,000, about 10 percent of jobs statewide, in 2011, according to U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis data. In the new issue of The Connecticut Economy however, UConn economist Steven Lanza issues a “report card” on manufacturing that presents the sector as among the most dynamic in the state’s economy, transformed by advanced technologies linked to research and development that are providing a catalyst for economic growth.  The analysis notes that during the past two years, Connecticut manufacturing employment has remained steady at about 165,000 workers.

The manufacturing sector contributed 20 percent of the growth in the state’s economic output in the decade ending in 2010, Lanza estimates, while boosting productivity – the value of manufactured goods per worker – by more than 50 percent from 1990 to 2007, with 35 percent fewer workers.

“Expanding output and falling employment [over that timeframe] combined to raise productivity per worker from $57,900 to $135,800, an impressive 134 percent increase,” Lanza says. Enhanced productivity, in turn, also led to higher wages: in 2011, Connecticut factory workers – who are now more likely to have a graduate degree and wear a suit or lab coat to work – earned an average salary of $76,900, or 26 percent above the state’s all-industry average of $61,100.

Connecticut’s manufacturing profile has also changed drastically; high-tech firms now produce more than 70 percent of the state’s output with computer/electronic products and chemicals accounting for more than 13 percent and 30 percent, respectively, of the total output in 2010.

Lanza also details how the state is now a leader in the aerospace and defense-related transportation equipment field – largely in the production of aircraft engines, helicopters, and nuclear submarines – totaling 23 percent of the state’s manufacturing output in 2010, compared with 20 percent in 1997.

Lanza is executive editor of The Connecticut Economy, a quarterly journal published by the University of Connecticut’s Department of Economics that offers data, forecasts, and substantive, data-driven analyses of current events, longer-term trends, and public policies affecting Connecticut’s economy.