Pedestrian Deaths Climb in Connecticut, Nationwide

The number of pedestrian deaths in Connecticut in the first half of 2018 jumped by 53 percent compared to the same period the previous year, according to preliminary data released by the Governor’s Highway Safety Association. There were 29 pedestrian deaths between January and June in Connecticut in 2018, compared with 19 between January and June 2017.  Based on population, Connecticut’s fatality rate was 16th among the states.

Nationwide, there was a 3 percent increases, as the number of pedestrian deaths climbed from 2,790 to 2,876 during the six month periods.  Five states (Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, and Texas) accounted for almost half — 46 percent — of all pedestrian deaths during the first six months of 2018.

Overall, pedestrian fatalities during the first half of 2018 declined in 23 states compared with the same period in 2017.   Six states (Alabama, Indiana, Michigan, Nevada, Oklahoma and Wisconsin) reported double-digit declines in both the number and percent change in pedestrian fatalities from the same period in 2017. Three states (Iowa, New Hampshire and Utah) reported two consecutive years of declining numbers of pedestrian fatalities.

During the 10-year period of 2008 to 2017, according to the National Highway traffic Safety Administration, the number of pedestrian fatalities in the U.S. increased by 35 percent, from 4,414 deaths in 2008 to 5,977 deaths in 2017. This translates into more than 1,500 additional pedestrian deaths in 2017 compared with 2008. At the same time that pedestrian deaths have been increasing, the number of all other traffic deaths combined decreased by six percent.

In its review of state efforts to promote pedestrian safety, an initiative in Connecticut is highlighted:  “Connecticut introduced the “Watch for Me CT” campaign, which is a statewide educational community outreach campaign involving media components and community engagement in partnership with CT Children’s Medical Center.” A statewide signage project was recently completed to ensure pedestrian signage was up to date with current standards, including near schools and bus stops, the report states, indicating that “every state is addressing pedestrian safety using a combination of engineering, education and enforcement.”

In addition, the GHSA report indicates that nationwide “about 75 percent of pedestrian fatalities occur after dark, and increases in pedestrian fatalities are occurring largely at night. From 2008 to 2017 the number of nighttime pedestrian fatalities increased by 45 percent, compared to a much smaller, 11 percent increase in daytime pedestrian fatalities.”

The change in the prevalence of various vehicle-types on the road is also noted, with the report pointing out that pedestrians struck by a large SUV are twice as likely to die as those struck by car.

The Green Book Has Hartford Debut - Documentary Tells Real Story of Guide to Freedom Through Segregated America

Little known by most people - regardless of race - until recently, the Green Book has recently exploded into the public consciousness. Described as "the essential travel guide for a segregated America," within just the past two days a popular movie by that name won the Academy Award for best picture, and a documentary relating the story of  real people and places that inspired the popular motion picture debuted on the Smithsonian Channel.

The documentary, "The Green Book: Guide to Freedom," was shown at a special preview at the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, in a showing coordinated by the Amistad Center for Art and Culture, Comcast, and the Smithsonian Channel.  It marked the third year that Comcast has joined with the Amistad Center and Smithsonian Channel to bring a special presentation to Hartford during Black History month.

Nearly 100 people were on hand for the local premiere of the documentary, which was followed by a panel discussion including Kelli Herod, Vice President of Post Production at Smithsonian Channel, and Stacey Close, Associate Vice President for Equity and Diversity at Eastern Connecticut State University, moderated by Kara Sundlun of WFSB.  Amistad Center Executive Director & Curator at Large Wm. Frank Mitchell, Brad Palazzo, Comcast Director of Community Impact and Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin also spoke briefly, with Bronin saluting the "resiliance, ingenuity and determination" of those who traveled through dangerous times.

The documentary was produced by award-winning filmmaker Yoruba Richen.  It premieres this week on Smithsonian Channel, telling the story of the Green Book, launched in the 1930's by Victor Green, a black postal carrier from Harlem who created a volume that was "part travel guide and part survival guide."  It helped African-Americans navigate safe passage across a dangerously segregated nation, identifying towns, hotels, restaurants and businesses that would be hospitable to African-Americans, sometimes few and far between.

The challenges were not only in the South.  In fact, a page in the 1948 Green Book, lists locations in Connecticut - and the list does not fill the page.  The locations were in Bridgeport, Hartford, New Haven, New London, Stamford, Waterbury and West Haven.  Included are restaurants, hotels, tourist homes, beauty parlors, barber shops, and night clubs.  The 1967 edition also includes five Hartford locations, including one - the former Bond Hotel - that is still standing to this day.

"We are proud to tell the true story behind this remarkable guide and to shine new light on this disturbing yet important period in Amerian history," said David Royle, Smithsonian Channel's Chief Programming officer.

The documentary tells the story of the rise of the African American middle class in Detroit, and the iconic A.G. Gaston Motel in Birmingham, Alabama - a pivotal location in the civil rights movement. It also recalls that during its 1950s heyday, the Idlewild Resort in Michigan was a magnet for black culture and entertainment, with a booming nightlife featuring famous performers like Louis Armstrong, Sarah Vaughan and Dinah Washington.  In the Q&A in Hartford following the advance showing, one audience member recalled her family owning property at the Idlewild - a local connection that the panel did not expect, but was clearly pleased to learn.

"At Comcast NBC Universal diversity and inclusion is a fundamental part of our company culture and are crucial components to all of our efforts to create and deliver the best and boldest technology and entertainment for our customers," noted Palazzo. "The Green Book: Guide to Freedom screening is another way for us to bring diverse entertainment and story-telling locally to Hartford-area residents."  Comcast, with Connecticut offices in Berlin, has partnered with the Amistad on a number of initiatives over the years and "are proud to play a small role in helping them to tell their cultural story."

The Amistad Center for Art & Culture, located in the Wadsworth Atheneum, celebrates art and culture influenced by people of African descent through education, scholarship  and social experiences.

Victor Green looked forward to the day people wouldn't need the Green Book. In the 1949 edition he wrote,

There will be a day sometime in the near future when this guide will not have to be published. That is when we as a race will have equal opportunities and privileges in the United States. It will be a great day for us to suspend this publication for then we can go wherever we please, and without embarrassment. But until that time comes we shall continue to publish this information for your convenience each year.

The year the Civil Rights Act passed, in 1964, was the Green Book’s last.  As the panelists in Hartford noted, more than 50 years later, the struggle for equality continues.






CT is 24th in U.S., 2nd in New England in International Students; Numbers Rising

There were 15,278 international students enrolled at Connecticut collegiate institutions during the 2017-18 academic year, which represents an increase of 4 percent over the previous year and a 63 percent increase since 2012. In academic year 2017-18, Connecticut ranked second in New England and 24th in the U.S. in international student enrollment, according to the 2018 Open Doors report released by the nonprofit Institute of International Education (IIE) and the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA).

Between AY 2012-13 and AY 2017-18, Yale University and the University of Connecticut took the top spots as the universities with the largest share of international students in Connecticut.

International students represent a big economic injection for New England, the report points out. In academic year 2017-18, international students contributed $39.4 billion to the overall U.S. economy, with $4.2 billion added to the New England economy alone. Between 2012 and 2018, international students contributed a total of $21.3 billion to the New England economy. Foreign students contributed an estimated $584 million to Connecticut’s economy in the past year, according to the report, which was highlighted recently by the New England Board of Higher Education.

The number of international students in New England has increased every year since 2012 and the region’s growth on this measure now outpaces the nation. In the 2017-18 academic year, the region enrolled 6.3 percent more international students than the previous academic year (AY).  This figure compares to a national increase of only 1.5 percent during the same period.

Both public and private nonprofit institutions in New England saw a 61 percent rise in the number of foreign students over a five-year period from AY 2012-13 to AY 2017-18, which is comparable to the national growth in the international student population over the same period.

International students have helped forestall a nationwide enrollment crisis. The total higher education population in the U.S. topped out in 2010 at about 21 million students and has been slowly declining since then. The decline in New England is especially acute. This has been countered to some extent by growth of the foreign student population, coupled with a rise in online enrollment, which together comprise almost a quarter of the nation’s students.

The data indicates that there were 9,350 international students enrolled in Connecticut colleges and universities in 2012; 14,711 in 2017 and 15,278 in 2018.  The number of international students increased from 2017 to 2018 in every New England state with the exception of New Hampshire, which saw a slight decrease.  Only Massachusetts has more international students than Connecticut, among the six New England states.

CT is One of 8 States Launching Pilot Projects to Retain Workers with Disabilities

Eight states - including Connecticut - have launched projects aiming to provide opportunities for people who experience occupational or non-occupational injuries or illnesses to remain in and return to the workforce. After a competitive selection process, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy in partnership with DOL’s Employment and Training Administration and the Social Security Administration awarded eight states with funding for RETAIN Demonstration Projects.

Connecticut’s request was $2.1 million. Phase one of the project will be in the Capitol Region; the intention is to then expand to other regions of the state in phase two.  Each state created a leadership team comprised of representatives from state health services, state workforce development, and other public and private stakeholders. The team will work to foster collaboration between health care providers and employers to assist injured or ill workers in remaining in the workforce.

Health care partner on the Connecticut pilot initiative is the University of Connecticut Health Center and the insurer is The Hartford.  The state Department of Labor’s Office of Workforce Competitiveness is leading the team, along with representatives of Capital Workforce Partners, The Hartford, UConn Health, the state Department of Rehabilitation Services, and the CT Business Leadership network.

In addition to Connecticut, the states of California, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Ohio, Vermont and Washington received awards. While each has the same mission, the projects are adaptable to specific state needs. The goal of RETAIN, or Retaining Employment and Talent after Injury/Illness Network, Demonstration Projects is to test the impact of early intervention strategies that improve stay-at-work/return-to-work outcomes, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, as reported by the Council of State Governments (CSG).

Stay-at-work/return-to-work initiatives provide timely and effective supports and services that allow employees to remain in the workforce and avoid long-term unemployment. Keeping people engaged in the workplace benefits all stakeholders including the employee, employer and state, officials point out.  States hope to reduce long-term work disability and the need for Social Security Disability Insurance through the projects.

The projects will be funded in two phases. The eight states mentioned above were funded for the 18-month Phase 1 pilot project. After Phase 1, a subset of the recipients will competitively apply for Phase 2 funding. Phase 2 will include a 30-month project implementation and a 12-month evaluation.

Providing supports and services for people who have acquired occupational or non-occupational injuries or illnesses strengthens their quality of life, allows businesses to prosper, and stimulates state economies, officials noted.

CT Ranks 11th in U.S. in Economic Impact of Immigrants

In an analysis of the economic impact of foreign-born populations on the 50 states and the District of Columbia, Connecticut ranks 11th in the nation. The states were immigrants have the biggest economic impact, according to the analysis by the financial website WalletHub, are California, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Maryland, District of Columbia, Delaware, Illinois, Florida and Washington.

To determine the states in which immigration has the most positive economic impact, WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across four key dimensions: 1) Immigrant Workforce, 2) Socioeconomic Contribution, 3) Brain Gain & Innovators and 4) International Students.

Connecticut was just outside the top 10 overall, with its top ranking in the socioeconomic contribution category, where it ranked eighth.  Connecticut ranked tenth in both workforce and international student categories, and 13th in “brain gain and innovation.” The four dimensions were examined using 20 key metrics, ranging from jobs generated by immigrant-owned businesses as a share of total jobs to foreign-born STEM workers as a share of total STEM workforce.

"Connecticut ranked 11th in terms of economic impact of immigration. It has the eighth most work visas per capita, and the sixth largest share of active physicians who are international medical graduates at 28.8%, explained WalletHub analyst Jill Gonzalez.  “Twelve percent of households in Connecticut are second-generation immigrants and the median household income of foreign born population is the ninth highest, which means immigrants bring a strong socioeconomic contribution to the state. Additionally, Connecticut has the fifth most H1-B visas per capita."

At the bottom of the list, reflecting the least immigrant impact, were Idaho, Montana, South Dakota, Wyoming and Mississippi.

Connecticut also ranked 7th in the share of second-generation immigrant households and 9th in the median household income of the state’s foreign-born population, $64,168.


One-Third of Connecticut Legislators are Women, Reversing State Trend, Ranking 14th in U.S.

As the new Connecticut legislative session gets underway, 33.5 percent of lawmakers are women, the 14th highest percentage among the states.  The Connecticut legislature now includes 61 women, apparently the high water mark in state history, and exceeding the national average among the states of 28.5 percent. In the Senate, there are currently 9 women out of 33 members.  Eight of the nine are Democrats.  In the House, which currently has 149 members, 29 are Democrats and 22 are Republicans.

Connecticut’s 33.5 percent is from 182 seats, with five vacancies to be filled in special elections on February 26.  Candidates for those seats have not all been selected.

The ranks of women dropped by two in the Senate between Election Day and Opening Day of the legislative session, with former Senators Terry Gerratana of New Britain and Beth Bye of West Hartford accepting positions in the Lamont Administration and not taking the oath of office for a new legislative term.  Two male House members and a male Senate member also did not take their oaths of office in order to join the administration.

Nearly one-third of the women in the legislature this year - 20 of the 61 female legislators - are in their first term in the General Assembly.  Last year, women represented just over 27 percent of the legislature’s membership.

The 2018 election marked a slight comeback for Connecticut in terms of female representation.

Prior to this year, the state had fallen from ranking 8th to 19th during the past decade in the percentage of women serving in the legislature, with the percentage dropping from 31.6% as recently as 2009, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Connecticut’s 2009 legislature included 59 women, 31.6 percent of the membership, the 8th highest percentage among the states. In 2011, there were 56 women, 29.9 percent.

For their 2019 legislative sessions, the states with the largest contingent of female legislators are Nevada 50.8%, Colorado 47%, Oregon 41.1%, Washington 40.1%, Vermont 39.4%, Arizona 38.9%, Alaska 38.3%, Maine 38.2%, Maryland 37.8%, Rhode Island 37.2%, Illinois 36.2%, Michigan 35.8% and New Mexico 34.8%.  As with Connecticut, the numbers in other states may vary slightly due to resignations or elected legislators opting not to serve.

Nationally, women hold 2,110 of 7,383 state legislative seats.  Democrats hold more than twice as many – 1,430 Democrats and 663 Republicans. That is an increase of more than 300 Democratic women and a drop of about 40 Republican women in state legislatures across the country compared with 2017, according to NCSL data.


Hartford Ranked 3rd in U.S. for Women in Business

If you’re a woman in business, Hartford is among the best places in the nation to be.  That’s according to a new analysis by the website ShareFile, which ranked Hartford as the third best place in the U.S. for businesswomen.  Hartford ranked seventh a year ago. The “Businesswomen Power City Index” was developed by evaluating the 50 largest cities in the U.S. to determine where the best locations are for women to achieve business success, according to ShareFile.  The index ranks cities based on the percentage of women-owned businesses, executive jobs held by women, women vs. men wage gaps and the buying power of women, which is based on the cost of living and the average wages earned by women.

Hartford has jumped four places from 2017, as a result of a higher percentage of women-owned businesses (up 1.4%), according to the analysis.  Hartford’s ranking in the individual categories was:

  • 3rd (down from 2nd) in women’s buying power: 119
  • 6th (same as last year) in the percentage of women business executives: 31.9%
  • 16th (up from 22nd) in the wage gap between women and men: 18.1%
  • 31st (up from 42nd) in the percentage of women-owned businesses: 20.4%

The website points out that Hartford is home to the Women’s Business Center, located at the University of Hartford, which supports female entrepreneurs across the city and the state, offering advice, training, and events for women looking to expand their business.

Hartford is the only New England city in the top 20.  Providence, in the top 10 a year ago, fell out of the top 20.

Just ahead of Hartford, and retaining the top two positions in the ranking, were Baltimore and Tampa.  Rounding out the top 15 were Washington DC, Jacksonville, Raleigh, Denver, Orlando, Miami, Austin, Virginia Beach, Las Vegas, Sacramento, Los Angeles and Atlanta. Aside from the top two, no other city in the top 20 has remained in the same position as a year ago.

The analysis relies on data from four main sources, including the U.S. Census 2016 Annual Survey of Entrepreneurs, U.S Census Bureau 2015 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates, Sperling’s Best Places and the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission. ShareFile is a cloud-based file sharing service, a Citrix Systems company, based in Raleigh.