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Connecticut Economic Digest: May 2000 issue
A Tale of Large Cities: Population and Jobs | Industry Clusters | Housing Update | Hartford: An Update

A Tale of Large Cities: Population and Jobs
By Joseph Slepski, Research Analyst

There seems to be a general perception that the largest cities in Connecticut have steadily declined in both population and jobs during the latter part of the past century. This article will attempt to explore this premise by looking at both population figures and the number of jobs located in the cities of Bridgeport, Hartford, New Haven, Stamford and Waterbury. The points of time examined are, for population: 1960, 1970, 1980, 1990 and 1998*; and for jobs, the same years, except 1963 is used instead of 1960 because that is the earliest year for which city and town job estimates are available. One limitation of using data that spans wide intervals of time is that high and low points may not be precisely captured; however, the general trends are quite apparent in the data examined.

Bridgeport

In the city of Bridgeport, population stood at 156,700 in 1960, remained stable through the next decade, dropped sharply until 1980, and has declined moderately since. These numbers indicate that, from its high point in 1960, population in the city of Bridgeport declined by 12.3 percent. In terms of jobs located in the city, the total in 1963 was 78,600, peaked in 1970 and has been on a gradual decline in the 28 years since. From its high point of 84,700 in 1970, employment in the city of Bridgeport has declined by 42.1 percent. The following graph charts movement in Bridgeport's population and jobs.

Hartford

What has happened to the city of Hartford during those years? In 1960, population in Connecticut's capital city was 162,200. Like Bridgeport, Hartford's largest decline was in the decade between 1970 and 1980; but the city also experienced a slight expansion in population in the eighties. By 1998 the city had experienced more losses, to 131,500. Jobs in Hartford grew from 1963 through 1990 when they reached 151,400, but subsequently declined to 120,600 in 1998. The graph on the front page shows that the jobs did not begin to leave the city until the decade of the nineties and still remained at about the 1963 level in 1998.

New Haven

The city of New Haven, like Hartford, experienced its high point in population in the sixties, saw population declines in the decades between 1960 and 1980, rebounded in the eighties and suffered losses during the nineties. Regarding jobs, 1963 saw a total of 86,900 jobs in the city. Jobs in New Haven reached a pinnacle in 1970, declined in the seventies, recovered somewhat during the eighties before suffering during the recession of the early nineties.

Stamford

Unlike Connecticut's other major cities, Stamford has experienced a steady growth in population, outside of a decline in the seventies, and most recently was at an all-time high of 110,700. As far as jobs go, in 1963 the total was 42,100; that total nearly doubled by 1998 when Stamford firms employed 80,400. It appears that the city of Stamford was the least hard hit of all the large cities by the economic downturns of the past thirty-plus years as employment has steadily increased during that period of time.

Waterbury

In the city of Waterbury, population in 1960 was 107,100 and by 1980 it had fallen to 103,300. In 1990, a reversal occurred as population rose to 109,000. However, by 1998 it had dropped again to 105,300. Jobs in Waterbury rose steadily throughout the sixties and seventies before declining somewhat during the eighties and nineties. Despite the economic hardships that have occurred in the last twenty years, employment in the city of Waterbury, at 44,100 in 1998, was higher than it was back in the sixties.

Summary

These numbers show that each major city in Connecticut has had a different experience in the past four decades. With the exception of Stamford, each of the other major cities has suffered periods of job loss during that time. In the final analysis, however, only Bridgeport and New Haven have significantly fewer jobs today than they had in the early 1960s. In contrast, the gains within the Stamford city limits nearly equal the combined losses in Bridgeport and New Haven. Hartford and Waterbury have roughly the same number of jobs as they did four decades ago.

In terms of population, Stamford again was the only big gainer when comparing 1960 to 1998, having added 18,000 residents. However, almost all of that occurred in the 1960s; there has not been much change in its population since 1970. In Waterbury, like in its number of jobs, there was little change in its population over the entire period. The State's three most populous cities, Bridgeport, Hartford and New Haven, actually experienced large declines in numbers of residents between 1960 and 1998. This could be attributed, at least in part, to the trend over that period of people moving from the cities to the suburbs. More open space, better roadways and the increased use of the automobile were partly responsible for this. It is for these same reasons that many businesses also followed suit and built new facilities in the suburban towns that became easily accessible to its workers. Obviously, with trends like these, raising revenues to run a city can be a significant challenge.

While Stamford is considered a major city by many in Connecticut, some in mid-town Manhattan consider Stamford to have a smaller-town attractiveness. It's the place to be.


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Industry Clusters
Workforce Development

Executives on the original Industry Cluster Advisory  Boards identified workforce development as the single most important factor in Connecticut's long-term competitiveness. To attract and retain businesses in key industry clusters, a region must offer an adequate pool of qualified workers with skills utilizing sophisticated technology. A series of demand-driven training initiatives resulted. Two currently underway are the secondary school pilots and the precision machine-training program.

In January 1999, four proposals were selected for a total of $420,000 funding: (1) The Northeastern Connecticut Manufacturing pilot recruited 17 students and entailed marketing efforts including radio spots, newsletters, and parent advisory meetings. (2) The Manufacturing Advanced Placement Program recruited 18 students. (3) The Manufacturing Technology Cooperative Program included summer manufacturing camps for 51 7th and 8th graders, and development of a brochure with the Waterbury Chamber of Commerce. (4) The Windsor Public High School provided field trips to various manufacturing companies and development of a brochure.

The Precision Machine Training Program was funded with $1.6 million of private, federal and state funds. Originally launched by the Metro-Hartford Millennium Project, the program now partners area manufacturers with three community-technical colleges: Asnuntuck, Capital, and Manchester. It provides 780 hours of instruction, job shadowing, and certification by the National Tooling and Machining Association. So far, 200 students have graduated, and area manufacturers currently employ 163.

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HOUSING UPDATE
Permits Up 69% Over Last Month

Commissioner James F. Abromaitis of the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development announced that Connecticut communities authorized 859 new housing units in March 2000, a 22.3 percent decrease compared to March of 1999 when 1,105 units were authorized.

The Department further indicated that the 859 units permitted in March 2000 represent an increase of 69.1 percent from the 508 units permitted in February 2000. The year-to-date permits are down 8.5 percent, from 2,372 through March 1999, to 2,170 through March 2000.

Reports from municipal officials throughout the state indicate that Windham County with 19.4 percent showed the greatest percentage increase in March compared to the same month a year ago. New Haven County followed with a 16.5 percent increase.

New Haven County documented the largest number of new, authorized units in March with 184. Hartford County followed with 173 units and Fairfield County had 148 units. Hamden led all Connecticut communities with 43 units, followed by Danbury with 36 and Westbrook with 30.

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Hartford: An Update
By Joseph Slepski, Research Analyst

May 1998 was an exciting time for the City of Hartford when a spellbound audience crammed into City Hall as plans for a $1 billion riverfront development project to revive downtown were first unveiled. Once described as a sum "more than the total amount spent on bricks and mortar in Hartford in a decade," the ambitious project to be called Adriaen's Landing would feature a convention center, retail establishments, and housing units. Since then, the stadium site has been moved to East Hartford, and business and community leaders, working with the Capitol City Economic Development Authority (CCEDA), are focused on realizing many facets of Hartford's redevelopment. As this article goes to print, a long-awaited legislative vote is imminent.

What has happened to the Hartford area during the past year? Have the changes in this massive project impacted economic growth? The answer appears to be no. From March 1999 to March 2000, the total number of jobs in the Hartford Labor Market Area actually increased from 611,200 to 613,600. The number of jobs in the area is now at its highest point since 1990. Employment in the city between June 1998 and June 1999 (the latest point in time for which town employment data is available) was up by 4,600, or nearly four percent.

The really good news has been in the unemployment rate. Over the last year, the number of individuals without a job went down by nearly 5,800 in the area. As a result, the area unemployment rate declined from 3.6 to 2.6 percent of the labor force as of March 2000, the lowest it has been in the last eleven years. More good news can be found in the city of Hartford where more than 1,000 fewer residents were jobless in March this year compared with last year. The unemployment rate has gone down accordingly, from 7.1 to 5.1 percent.

Despite the uncertain outlook just a few short months ago, Hartford continues to make steady progress. The G. Fox building is slated to become a community college. Major Constitution Plaza renovations are nearly done. The Hartford Library and the Bushnell expansions are underway. Riverfront Recapture's walkway to the Connecticut River has already opened, and the fast-moving "Learning Corridor" which received an American Planning Association award, is scheduled to open this fall. A Crown Cinema complex is scheduled to open in July. This complex will also house a 65-foot screen theater which will allow Imax features to be shown. The city of Hartford has even gotten another sports franchise, the Hartford FoxForce of World Team Tennis is set to serve on July 12, 2000 at the State Armory. Improvements have also been made to the city's school system and the result has been unprecedented improvement in test scores on the Student Mastery Test. The crime rate is reportedly going down. In the past year alone, three events: the Taste of Hartford, First Night and the Greater Hartford Marathon combined to draw almost a quarter of a million people into the city. This coming summer will feature a two-week visit (July 29 - August 13) by the replica of the Amistad ship, moored at State Street Landing (for more information, see Riverfront Recapture Inc.'s website www.riverfront.org). Overlapping this event is the Mark Twain Days, August 4-6.

The circumstances might be somewhat different, but one year later to answer the question, is Hartford alive? The answer is a resounding YES.

Hartford City Data Profile

Economic Indicators \ Year

1998

1999

Labor Force........................................

53,971

52,606

Employed........................................

50,336

49,330

Unemployed...........................................

3,635

3,276

Unemployment Rate............................................

6.7

6.2

New Housing Permits............................

92

76

Retail Sales ($mil.).................................

1,504

1,562

Total Nonfarm Employment (June)......

120,630

125,240

Goods Producing Industries......................................

5,870

5,600

Construction.............................

1,570

1,760

Manufacturing...........................

4,300

3,840

Food....................................

870

770

Textiles & Apparel...................

200

200

Furniture, Wood, & Paper..........

160

160

Printing & Publishing..................

1,640

1,380

Chem, Rubber, Misc. Plastics...

340

340

Primary Metals.........................

70

70

Fab. Metals & Aircraft..................

730

630

Machinery...............................

160

160

Other Manufacturing...................

130

130

Service Producing Industries.................................

114,760

119,640

Transp. & Public Utilities................

9,210

9,340

Trade........................................

11,070

11,040

Wholesale................................

3,990

3,410

Retail.....................................

7,080

7,630

Finance, Insurance & Real Est....

33,620

34,560

Services (incl. Nonprofit)...............

39,840

43,670

Government...............................

21,020

21,030

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Published by the Connecticut Department of Labor, Office of Research
Last Updated: October 15, 2002