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Connecticut Economic Digest: February 1997 issue
High school graduates profiled | Housing Update | Highlighting Connecticut's Growing Plastics Industry | Leading & Coincident Indicators

High school graduates profiled
By Pam Casiano and Judy Thompson, Connecticut Department of Education

In 1996, there were 24,743 graduates from local public high schools and 1,576 from regional vocational-technical schools in Connecticut. This total, 26,319, is over 7,000 lower than 10 years earlier, but is expected to be the bottom of a long-term decline in the number of graduates (Table 1). Beginning in 1997, the number of graduates is expected to rise, and increase to 30,170 by the year 2001.

While not profiled in this article, an additional 5,382 adults received General Educational Development (GED) or high school credit diplomas, and there were an estimated 5,000 graduates from nonpublic high schools in the state.

Higher Proportions of Graduates Continuing Education

In 1996, the highest proportion of Connecticut graduates ever went on to two-year and four-year colleges and universities. Correspondingly, there was a continued decline in the number and percentage of graduates directly entering the workforce. Graduates in workforce activities include those in civilian or military employment and those who are unemployed but seeking employment.

In 1996, 19,159 graduates (72.8%) continued their education at two-year and four-year colleges and universities (Table 2). This was up from 1986 when 18,970 graduates (58.7%) continued their education. In 1996, an additional 792 graduates (3%) went on to vocational schools or were in other primarily educational activities.

In 1996, 15,003 (57.0%) attended four-year schools and 4,024 (15.3%) attended two-year schools. The majority of graduates attending four-year colleges, 8,653, went to out-of-state schools. This continued a longterm trend of graduates continuing their education at out-of-state schools.

Fewer Graduates Directly Enter Workforce

In 1996, 5,280 graduates directly entered the workforce. This represented 20.1% of the total 26,319 graduates: 15.9% of the total were local public school graduates and 4.1% were vocational- technical school graduates. Of these, 779 entered the military, 4,136 were employed and 365 were unemployed.

In 1986, when a higher percentage and a larger number of graduates entered the work force directly upon graduation than in any succeeding years, over 9,500, or 31.3% entered the workforce directly upon high school completion.

Vocational-Technical Schools

Vocational-Technical (VT) schools offer a wide range of programs providing occupational preparation as well as academic high school completion requirements.

In the last 10 years the number of vocational-technical school graduates has dropped much more (36%) than the number of local public graduates (19%).

Over the same time, a higher percentage of vocational-technical school graduates continued their education following graduation. In 1996, over 26% of vocational-technical graduates continued their education following graduation, while in 1986 20% did so. Fewer graduates and a higher proportion continuing their education have resulted in fewer vocational-technical school graduates directly entering the labor force. In 1996, 1,105 graduates sought employment, while 10 years earlier over 1,500 did so.

Table 3 below provides detailed follow-up information for 1995 graduates of vocationaltechnical programs with 25 or more graduates. (1996 program detail not yet analyzed).

Table 4 shows detailed information on the after graduation activities of the 1996 graduating class.

Education and Labor force Activities Differ by District and Race

The State Department of Education (SDE) created Education Reference Groups (ERGS) to group school districts with similar characteristics. Groupings were updated in 1996 based upon 1990 census data and 1994 State Department of Education data related to socioeconomic status, three statistics related to student need and district enrollment. Education Reference Groups range from Group A which includes suburbs with predominantly wealthy, well-educated professional residents to Group I, which includes the state's five most impoverished cities. (Detail on Education Reference Groups available from Research Bulletin 1, 1996-97, available from State Department of Education at (860) 566-7117).

As shown in Table 5 below, after-graduation activities differ by Education Reference Group. Graduates from wealthy suburban Education Reference Groups are more likely to continue their education than urban area graduates, while graduates from the urban Education Reference Groups are more likely to enter the labor force directly upon graduation than their suburban peers.

After-graduation activities also differ by race. Asian-American and white graduates are more likely to continue their education than black or Hispanic graduates, who are more likely to be in workforce activities.

High School Dropouts

Many students, however, do not stay in school until graduating. The State Department of Education began collecting data on high school dropouts from all school districts in the state in 1991, when the 1995 graduates were in ninth grade. For the class of 1995, 17.4% of the ninth graders dropped out before graduation. For the class of 1996, this rate dropped to 16.4%. This, however, represented over 3,000 students leaving high school before graduation. Some of these dropouts later receive their GEDs or adult diplomas.

Data in this article are reported by school districts to the State Department of Education on the ED540, Graduating Class Report (based on October 15 activities of June graduates) and ED525, Student Mobility report, (based upon October 1 through September 30 information). Projections of graduates were made by the State Department of Education.

This report was prepared by Pam Casiano and Judy Thompson of the Connecticut State Department of Education, Division of Teaching and Learning, Bureau of Research and Teacher Assessment. Questions or comments should be referred to Pam Casiano at (860) 566-4723.

TABLE 1:

Graduates
Year Public Schools Vocational-Technical Schools Total
1996 24,743 1,576 26,319
1995 24,781 1,665 26,446
1994 24,523 1,807 26,330
1993 24,998 1,801 26,799
1992 25,276 1,804 27,080
1991 25,415 1,776 27,191
1990 26,479 2,048 28,527
1989 29,320 2,192 31,512
1988 30,906 2,135 33,041
1987 31,129 2,282 33,411
1986 30,479 2,479 32,958

TABLE 2:

Year Number of Graduates Those Attending College Work Force
1996 26,319 19,159 5,280
1995 26,446 19,048 5,306
1994 26,330 18,596 5,524
1993 26,799 18,723 5,849
1992 27,080 18,696 5,870
1986 32,298 18,970 10,122

TABLE 3:

Vocational-Technical Course Number of Graduates Number Pursuing Education Number in Military Number with Job Related to Training Number with Job Unrelated to Training
Auto Body Repair 48 4 4 26 11
Auto Mechanics 151 34 6 67 28
Carpentry 121 15 8 49 26
Culinary 127 34 6 39 21
Drafting Arch 50 29 1 3 8
Drafting Mach 88 40 4 11 22
Electrical 177 31 6 80 35
Electro-Mechanical 44 21 2 6 9
Electronics 146 70 7 18 30
Fashion Technology 36 13 1 9 8
Graphic Communication 80 36 1 13 14
Hairdressing/Cosmetology 176 36 2 59 34
Heating Vent & Air Conditioning 90 16 5 40 13
Manufacturing Technology 107 20 2 45 20
Plumbing & Heating 96 7 1 40 31

VT schools offer the following programs which, in 1995, had fewer than 25 graduates: Baking, Engine Repair, Health Tech, Hotel Tech, Masonry, Metal Trades Tech, Microcomputer SW Tech, Paint & Decorating, and Welding.

TABLE 4:

Detailed Activities of 1996 Graduates
Activity Public School Vocational-Technical School Total Percent
POSTSECONDARY EDUCATION
Public Institutions of Higher Education:
Four-Year Programs:
Connecticut 4,737 65 4,802 18.2
Out-of-State 2,529 23 2,552 9.7
Two-Year Programs:
Connecticut 3,039 188 3,227 12.3
Out-of-State 199 20 219 0.8
Private Institutions of Higher Education:
Four-Year Programs:
Connecticut 1,534 14 1,548 5.9
Out-of-State 6,072 29 6,101 23.2
Two-Year Programs:
Connecticut 282 15 297 1.1
Out-of-State 270 11 281 1.1
Higher Education 18,787 372 19,159 72.8
Vocational Education 604 25 629 2.4
Other Education 159 5 164 0.6
TOTAL POSTSECONDARY EDUCATION 19,550 402 19,952 75.8
CAREER-RELATED ACTIVITIES
Military Service 690 89 779 3
Employed 3,221 915 4,136 15.7
Unemployed 264 101 365 1.4
TOTAL CAREER-RELATED ACTIVITIES 4,175 1,105 5,280 20.1
MISCELLANEOUS        
Other 212 10 222 0.8
Deceased, Incapacitated, or Unknown 806 59 865 3.3
TOTAL MISCELLANEOUS 1,018 69 1,087 4.1
GRAND TOTAL 24,743 1,576 26,319 100

TABLE 5:

Education Reference Group Number of Graduates Percent Pursuing Education Percent in Workforce Activities Percent of Other
A 1,657 92.2 5.2 2.6
B 4,520 87.3 9.2 3.5
C 2,214 81.5 16.0 2.5
D 3,593 80.8 16.3 2.9
E 754 71.2 25.7 3.1
F 3,783 75.7 19.6 4.7
G 1,101 69.0 25.4 5.6
H 3,991 75.4 19.8 4.8
I 3,130 70.5 22.7 6.8
VT 1,576 25.5 70.3 4.2
Total 26,319 75.8 20.1 4.1
 
Racial/Ethnic Group:
American Indian 59 59.3 37.3 3.4
Asian American 725 88.6 8.4 3.0
Black 2,854 67.6 24.9 7.5
White 20,745 77.8 18.8 3.4
Hispanic 1,936 61.9 30.8 7.2
Total 26,319 75.8 20.1 4.1

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Housing Update
Housing permits decrease in 1996

The Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development announced that Connecticut communities authorized 7,714 new housing units during 1996, a 7.1% decrease compared to 1995 when 8,307 were authorized.

The Department further indicated that the 589 units permitted in December 1996 represent a decrease of 8.4% from the 643 units permitted in December 1995, and that they are down 13.8% from November 1996 when 683 were authorized.

Totals for 1996 indicate that Hartford County issued the most building permits with 1,734, followed by Fairfield County with 1,667, and New Haven County with 1,573. Stamford authorized 302 new units during 1996, followed by Southington with 180, Milford with 174, Shelton with 173, and Glastonbury with 170.

Reports from municipal officials throughout the state indicate that Fairfield County showed the greatest percentage increase in December compared to the same month a year ago: 52.9%. Middlesex County reported the greatest percentage decline: 47.5% for the same period.

Fairfield County documented the largest number of new, authorized units in December with 182. New Haven County followed with 155 units and Hartford County had 95 units. Milford led all Connecticut communities with 35 units, followed by Bridgeport with 34 and Norwalk with 27.

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Highlighting Connecticut's Growing Plastics Industry

Connecticut's growing plastics industry will be highlighted at the first Plastics Expo to be held on April 2, 1997 at the Aquaturf Club, Southington, CT. Over 60 exhibitors will be present to display plastic parts and products manufactured in Connecticut. Last year, the Connecticut plastics industry held its first Plastics Symposium at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford. Plastic parts produced here were displayed to highlight the importance of this industry to Connecticut's manufacturing and economic future. Since then, a number manufacturing projects, seminars, and pilot training programs have developed, expanding the visibility of this industry.

Nationally, the plastics industry is a significant contributor to the nation's economy, outpacing most other manufacturing industries in the creation of jobs and economic growth for America's communities. In the past two decades, the industry's producers of raw materials, products, processing machinery and molds have continually added new jobs to the economy even as overall manufacturing employment declined.

In Connecticut, this industry has a projected annual growth rate well above the overall average for industries in Connecticut. There are 339 plastics facilities in the state, with total annual shipments greater than $3 billion, making Connecticut one of the strongest states for plastics manufacturing. The plastics industry in Connecticut provides more than 19,000 jobs, and generates more than $600 million in annual wages. This industry, including plastic product manufacturers, machinery companies and moldmakers, wholesale distributors, and captive plastic processors (integrated with manufacturing in other industries) - will be a key provider of new employment opportunities for Connecticut workers now and into the 21st century.


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Leading & Coincident Indicators
Leading index climbs to new peak

Connecticut's leading employment index climbed to a new peak with the release of the (preliminary) November data. The new peak, however, is not much higher than the levels reached in June and September of this year, and is only 2.7 percent above its level a year ago. Connecticut's coincident employment index fell slightly for the first time on a month-to-month basis since December 1995. The coincident index, nonetheless, remains 7.1 percent higher than its level 12 months ago.

The coincident index, a gauge of current employment activity, caught its breath last month from its recent strong upward momentum. This recent momentum reflects in large part the lower insured unemployment rate, down 17.2 percent (or 0.5 percentage point) over the last 12 months. But it also reflects higher total employment, up 3.3 percent, and higher nonfarm employment, up 1.3 percent. With the release of the November data, however, both nonfarm employment and total employment were off a bit from October while the unemployment rate rose a tenth of a percentage point. The only positive movement in the components of the coincident index between October and November was the tenth of a percentage point decrease in the insured unemployment rate.

The leading index, a barometer of future employment activity, continues to bounce around, although it is actually at its peak in the current expansion. The leading index has not moved in the same direction, either up or down, for more than two consecutive months since December 1994. Nevertheless, over the past 12 months, the initial claims for unemployment insurance fell by 25.6 percent, the short-duration (less than 15 weeks) unemployment rate fell by 11.9 percent (or 0.2 percentage point), Hartford help-wanted advertising rose by 12.5 percent, and total housing permits increased by 17.9 percent.

In summary, the coincident employment index rose from 83.2 in November 1995 to 89.1 in November 1996. Three of the four index components point in a positive direction on a year-overyear basis with higher nonfarm employment, higher total employment, and a lower insured unemployment rate. The other component, the total unemployment rate, remained unchanged on a year-over-year basis.

The leading employment index rose from 87.5 in November 1995 to 89.9 in November 1996. Four of the five index components sent positive signals on a year-overyear basis with lower initial claims for unemployment insurance, a lower short-duration (less than 15 weeks) unemployment rate, higher Hartford help-wanted advertising, and higher total housing permits. The final component, the average work week of manufacturing production workers, remained unchanged on a year-over-year basis.

Source: Connecticut Center for Economic Analysis, University of Connecticut. Developed by Pami Dua [(203) 322-3466, Stamford Campus (on leave)] and Stephen M. Miller [(860) 486-3853, Storrs Campus]. Tara Blois [(860) 486-4752, Storrs Campus] provided research support.

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Last Updated: October 15, 2002