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Connecticut Economic Digest: November 2002 issue
Recent Connecticut Export Performance Explored | Occupational Profile: Paralegals and Legal Assistants |Town/City Profile: Wallingford | Housing Update | Industry Clusters

Recent Connecticut Export Performance Explored
By Mark R. Prisloe, Chief Economist, DECD

Some very good news is in: Connecticut exports outperformed the U.S. economy in 2001. Last year, the dollar value of Connecticut's exports was up seven percent, compared with an overall decrease for U.S. exports. This is according to a recent report, Connecticut Exports 2001, prepared by the internationally recognized Massachusetts Institute for Social and Economic Research (MISER). The report, in draft form, explored Connecticut's export performance in considerable and comprehensive detail.

Specifically, the total dollar value of Connecticut's exports in 2001 totaled $8.6 billion, up $563 million from 2000 (or seven percent), and contrasts favorably for Connecticut with the 6.3 percent decline in exports for the U.S. for the same period (See chart). Even for 1998-2001, Connecticut exports were up 18.0 percent, or more than double the U.S. increase of 7.4 percent. Moreover, as a percent of all U.S. exports, Connecticut contributes 1.2 percent.

Overall, the draft report notes the continued strength of the aircraft and jet engine industries in driving Connecticut's total exports. Aircraft and engine manufacturers' growth markets include Europe, Asia, and South America. They were slowed only slightly by the 2001 recession. The draft report also finds "solid advances" in non high-tech sectors such as furniture, paper, organic chemicals, and tobacco, but some declines in the 2001 export volumes of electric machinery, instrumentation, and plastics, among other industry sectors.

MISER, known for its research on foreign trade data and state merchandise export data, prepared the report for the Eastern Trade Council (ETC) of the Council of State Governments/Eastern Regional Conference, a conference of the 10 states from Delaware to Maine. Formed in 1998, the ETC enhances cooperation and collaboration in trade development among member jurisdictions by sharing information, jointly promoting regional products, and collectively advocating for federal trade policies to benefit the region and strengthen its economic competitiveness in the global marketplace.

In examining export performance, attention is usually paid to both key industries and major export destinations. The MISER draft report highlights Connecticut's export performance in the form of a "SWOT" analysis - determining Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. MISER also identified and provided data for Connecticut's top commodities and major export destinations.

Strengths

Several key strengths were identified by the MISER study. It noted that, "Industrial machinery, including computers, is by far Connecticut's strongest export sector, accounting for 46% of all State exports in 2001."

In addition, "Exports of aircraft, spacecraft, and parts thereof dipped slightly in 2001 by 1.7%, but overall market growth of 53.8% made it one of the State's strongest export industries, following only industrial machinery." It should be noted that under the SIC coding system (the two-digit Standard Industry Classification), annual data from 1987 consistently showed SIC 37, Transportation Equipment, to be Connecticut's leading export.

According to MISER, the "Major growth export destinations for Connecticut in 1998-2001 included France, Germany, Japan, and Singapore." This is fairly consistent with previous years. Specifically, the top ten export destinations for Connecticut exports in 2001 were: (1) Canada, (2) France, (3) Germany, (4) Japan, (5) United Kingdom, (6) Singapore, (7) Mexico, (8) China (Taiwan), (9) Australia, and (10) Republic of Korea. The report also found "Industrial machinery comprised between 49% and 82% of all Connecticut exports to these markets."

Weaknesses

The draft report also noted several weaknesses. "Optic, photo and medical/surgical instrumentation was the State's top loss industry by dollar volume in 1998-2001." Electric machinery was described as a "qualified" weakness because of sustained losses, but the industry nevertheless "posted a moderate gain of 7.5% for 1998-2001, compared to the corresponding U.S. average of 13%." The report goes on to note: "Metal oxide semiconductors, telecommunica-tions apparatus, and electrical parts of machinery Nesoi (not elsewhere specified or indicated) bore the brunt of the losses. Testifying to their previous market strength, however, all three commodities finished the four year period with substantial net export increases."

The draft report noted a troubling trend with respect to Mexico. The draft report found it to be, "the only market among Connecticut's top 10 export destinations where export growth consistently trailed both the U.S. and the State's own average export rate."

Finally, Africa was characterized as "a largely unexploited market for Connecticut. While the U.S. export average advanced 10.1% in 1998-2001, exports from Connecticut fell 71.9%." It should also be noted that Connecticut actively seeks trade and recruitment opportunities with Africa and has a significant promotional campaign to support these goals.

Opportunities

Currency drops, new destinations, and better penetration in new and existing markets all present opportunities for Connecticut companies. Mainland China may hold the greatest promise.

Specifically, a seven percent drop in the dollar value against major currencies between January and June 2002 should make U.S. products, including Connecticut's, more price-competitive. This would boost trade with major markets such as Japan, the European Union, and Canada.

Connecticut's otherwise strong growth and specialization could be expanded to destinations where market penetration is lower compared to other states. Germany, Mexico, and Italy, as well as mainland China are cited, for example.

Recoveries of the Mexican and Asian (Singapore and Taiwan) economies "should renew demand for the State's semiconductor products and potentially increase demand for the State's industrial instrumentation products as well. Select markets in Africa, such as Kenya and Namibia, are seen as providing opportunities for U.S. exporters."

Finally, although mainland China is not one of Connecticut's top 10 export markets, it "is climbing steadily. State exports to China shot up by 149.5% from 1998-2001." China's entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO) should boost opportunities for both Connecticut and other U.S. exporters.

Threats

Among potential threats, the draft report cites the return of a bull currency that "would dampen demand for U.S. products, particularly less specialized products for which there are ready substitutes from other markets." What is characterized as "foot dragging" by China on WTO commitments may mean a delay in new market opportunities.

Lastly, "[a] tentative recovery of the information technology markets in the U.S. could weaken demand for U.S.-made production equipment and components used by export-oriented tech manufacturers in Asia and Europe."

Top Commodities

MISER finds that industrial machinery - mostly turbojets and turbojet and gas turbine parts - make up 46 percent of all of Connecticut's exports. This is the largest export sector with the greatest increase in dollar value in 1998-2001.

The second most important commodity, exports of aircraft, spacecraft, and parts thereof, achieved an impressive net increase of 53.8 percent in 1998-2001 (or $321.1 million). Third and fourth in rank are electric machinery and optic/photo medical/surgical instrumentation. They sustained substantial export losses. Plastics, destined largely to Canada and Mexico, ranked fifth.

Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, furniture was an export success story for this period. Gains climbed a whopping 147.5 percent (or $76.4 million). A closer look at some detail of this industry shows that it consists primarily of furniture for medical, surgical, dental, and veterinary uses, as well as seats for aircraft, rather than traditional home furnishing.

Organic chemicals are ranked among the State's top ten growth categories and advanced $33.3 million, or 56.6 percent from 1998-2001. Pharmaceuticals showed the biggest gap in performance, falling 50 percent compared with a 65.6 percent gain for pharmaceutical exports from the U.S. Rounding out the top 10 commodities is tobacco, up 16.5 percent in this period (with an export value of $84.3 million in 2001).

Major Destinations

One fifth of all State merchandise exports go to Canada, and it remains Connecticut's single largest trading partner. Exports to Canada totaled $1.7 billion. France is second with $1.4 billion in Connecticut exports, followed by Germany ($675.4 million), Japan ($616.6 million), United Kingdom ($462.4 million), Singapore ($413.5 million), Mexico ($326.6 million), Taiwan ($233.6 million), Australia ($210.1 million), and Republic of Korea ($190.9 million.).

Connecticut's largest single export destination in South America is Brazil with $105.3 million in State exports in 2001, marking an increase of 52.1 percent in 1998-2001. Other notable destinations are: Malaysia, ranking 20th at $94.5 million, Dominican Republic at 21st with $93.7 million, and Colombia at 22nd with $82.9 million. Colombia was nevertheless among the top 10 growth destinations in 2001, up 64.1 percent and an astounding 355.0 percent in 1998-2001. Chile and Argentina, which are examples of significant developing economies, rank 30th and 31st in 2001, with $25.5 and $24.4 in Connecticut exports, respectively.

The Data

The MISER data in the draft report are based on the Harmonized System (HS) of international coding for commodities, rather than the new North American Industry Classification System (NAICS), which lacks sufficient detail, or the previously used, and most familiar, two-digit Standard Industry Classification (SIC) codes. HS is the basis of the tariff schedule in most countries and was adopted in 1989 by the largest exporting and importing countries. Since then, nearly all countries have adopted HS. It is important to note that service industry export and import data are not included in any of these analyses as no state level data is available.

Conclusion

Connecticut's recent export performance has its share of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. While the State's manufacturers, in particular, can take pride in the sustained export growth, this is no time to rest on laurels. Global competition, demands from as yet undiscovered and potential sources, and efforts to gain knowledge of such opportunities underscore the old adage, there's no time like the present to act.

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Occupational Profile: Paralegals and Legal Assistants
By Jungmin Charles Joo, Associate Research Analyst, DOL

Introduction

Paralegals and legal assistants are projected to rank among the fastest growing occupations in both the Connecticut and national economies, as they increasingly perform many legal tasks formerly carried out by lawyers.

Nature of the Work

Paralegals and legal assistants assist lawyers by researching legal precedent, investigating facts, or preparing legal documents. They also conduct research to support a legal proceeding, to formulate a defense, or to initiate legal action.

Paralegals and legal assistants are found in all types of organizations, but most are employed by law firms, corporate legal departments, and various government offices. In these organizations, they may work in all areas of the law, or may deal with a specific area. The duties of paralegals also differ widely based on the type of organization in which they are employed.

Computer use and technical knowledge has become essential to paralegal work. Computer software packages and the Internet are increasingly used to search legal literature stored in computer databases and on CD-ROM.

Working Conditions

Paralegals employed by corporations and government usually work a standard 40-hour week. Although most paralegals work year round, some are temporarily employed during busy times of the year, then released when the workload diminishes. Paralegals who work for law firms sometimes work very long hours when they are under pressure to meet deadlines. Some law firms reward such loyalty with bonuses and additional time off. Paralegals do most of their work at desks in offices and law libraries. Occasionally, they travel to gather information and perform other duties.

Education and Training

While some paralegals train on the job, employers increasingly prefer graduates of a postsecondary paralegal education program, especially graduates of 4-year paralegal programs or college graduates who have completed paralegal certificate programs. Over 800 formal paralegal training programs are offered by 4-year colleges throughout the country. Information on a career as a paralegal, schools that offer training programs, job postings for paralegals, the Paralegal Advanced Competency Exam, and local paralegal associations can be obtained from National Federation of Paralegal Associations, http://www.paralegals.org.

Employment

Nationally, paralegals and legal assistants held about 179,330 jobs in 2000. In Connecticut, there were 3,890 jobs in this occupation in 2001. Private law firms employed the vast majority; most of the remainder worked for corporate legal departments and in various levels of government. A small number of paralegals own their own businesses and work as freelance legal assistants, contracting their services to attorneys or corporate legal departments.

Earnings

Earnings of paralegals and legal assistants vary greatly. Salaries depend on education, training, experience, type and size of employer, and geographic location of the job. In general, paralegals who work for large law firms or in large metropolitan areas earn more than those who work for smaller firms or in less populated regions. The national average annual wage for paralegals and legal assistants was $38,790 in 2000, the latest year for which data is available. Their average annual wage in Connecticut was higher at $43,260 in 2001. As the chart shows, the earnings among the regions of the State ranged from $37,075 in the New London Labor Market Area to $52,875 in the Stamford Labor Market Area.

Job Outlook

The majority of job openings for paralegals in the future will be new jobs created by rapid employment growth, but additional job openings will arise as people leave the occupation. Despite projections of fast employment growth, stiff competition for jobs should continue as the number of graduates of paralegal training programs and others seeking to enter the profession outpaces job growth.

Over 100 annual openings are anticipated in Connecticut for the next ten years, or growth of 43 percent in employment. Most of the openings will be in the capital and southwestern regions of the State.

Sources of Additional Information
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Town/City Profile: Wallingford
By Edward T. Doukas Jr., Research Analyst, DOL

Introduction

Wallingford, incorporated in 1670, is Connecticut's twenty-second oldest municipality. Originally settled astride the Quinnipiac River as a plantation village of the New Haven Colony, the town today covers 40 square miles with a population of 43,026 in 2000, making Wallingford the twenty-second most populous of the State's 169 municipalities.

Wallingford's strategic southern New England location is one of its most valuable assets. The community is situated along the Interstate 91 corridor thirteen miles north of New Haven and twenty-three miles south of Hartford. The town is also intersected by the Wilbur Cross Parkway and is in close proximity to Route 691 and Interstates 84 and 95. The town's restored historic train station is a regular stop for Amtrak service between Boston and New York, while freight service to Wallingford is provided by Conrail. Bradley International Airport is approximately forty miles to the north, the Tweed New Haven Regional Airport is a short distance away, and the Meriden Markham Municipal Airport is located on the Meriden/Wallingford town line. New Haven Harbor, the second largest port in New England and home to the region's Foreign Trade Zone, is only twenty minutes to the south.

Economy

Wallingford was once known for its concentration of pewter and silverware manufacturers, and home to the Britannia Spoon Company, Wallace Silver, Oneida Silver, and several plants of the International Silver Company. Today the town attracts small space, high tech, and specialty manufacturers, as the town's six industrial parks, which cover 1,500 acres, will attest. In fact, at the end of 2001, 63 percent of the manufacturing worksites in Wallingford had fewer than 25 employees.

During 2001, Wallingford's manufacturing workers earned an average weekly wage of $1,222. This figure is 23.8 percent higher than what manufacturing workers earned in bordering Meriden ($987), and 23.6 percent higher than earned in contiguous North Haven ($989). Manufacturing workers in Wallingford earned a weekly wage 19.1 percent higher than manufacturing workers in the New Haven Labor Market Area ($1,026), and 5.6 percent higher than the statewide manufacturing average weekly wage ($1,157).

Along with Wallingford's favorable location, the town's electric users enjoy some of the lowest electric rates in New England. This benefit is due to the fact that the town owns and operates its own electric utility.

Wallingford's retail base has undergone considerable expansion in the recent past with the additions of Wal Mart, Super K-Mart, The Home Depot, Kohl's, Shaw's Supermarket, and Sears Hardware. Wallingford is also home to Bristol-Myers Squibb world pharmaceutical research and development headquarters, the Gaylord Hospital which is considered Connecticut's premier rehabilitation hospital, and the multi-licensed Masonic Geriatric Health Care Center.

Wallingford also presents a wide array of recreational and leisure activities. The Oakdale Theatre is located in town. The Paul Mellon Arts Center located on the campus of Choate Rosemary Hall offers theater productions, art exhibitions, and is the home of the Wallingford Symphony Orchestra. Wallingford has approximately 300 acres of parks and 2,000 acres of open space. Also, the first phase of the seven-mile Quinnipiac River Linear Trail has been completed.

Outlook

Wallingford's prosperity is linked to its favorable location, attractive business climate, and the presence of all the amenities expected of a much larger community. These attributes should keep Wallingford in a favorable position for continued economic growth well into the future.

Equally important is the town's classic New England atmosphere. Serene pastoral farms, gentle rolling hills, and historically and architecturally significant homes can all be found just minutes from Wallingford's business centers. Wallingford is a community solidly anchored in the past, while simultaneously pursuing the future.

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HOUSING UPDATE
Housing Permits Remain Strong

Commissioner James F. Abromaitis of the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development announced that Connecticut communities authorized 773 new housing units in September 2002, a 29.3 percent increase compared to September of 2001 when 598 units were authorized.

The Department further indicated that the 773 units permitted in September 2002 represent a 4.7 percent decrease from the 811 units permitted in August 2002. The year-to-date permits are up 3.0 percent, from 7,092 through September 2001, to 7,307 through September 2002.

The Hartford Labor Market Area showed the largest gain of 127 units (or 59.6%), while the New Haven Labor Market Area experienced a loss of 18 units compared to a year ago. Vernon led all Connecticut communities with 38 units, followed by Manchester with 28, and Danbury with 24. From a county perspec-tive, Tolland County had the largest gain (138.9 percent) com-pared to a year ago.

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Industry Clusters
Pilot Financing Program for Bioscience Announced

Governor John G. Rowland has announced a pilot program to assist the growth of emerging, Connecticut-based bioscience companies. The program, which begins January 1, 2003, will provide Connecticut banks with a 30 percent loan guarantee for small bioscience companies requesting financing for machinery and equipment.

Connecticut-based bioscience research and development investment in 2001 totaled $3.6 billion, an 18 percent increase over 2000, according to industry sources. This fund will provide further incentive to the bioscience companies currently located in the state, as well as those considering relocation to Connecticut.

The fund underscores the state's commitment to further fostering the growth of the bioscience industry. Through this program, the state's new Office of Bioscience will provide banks with a better understanding of companies' specific activities and serve as an additional resource for financing.

Webster Bank will be the first bank to participate in the program. The state will provide an initial investment of $1 million (from existing funds) and leverage private investment of $3 million. Additional Connecticut banks will be offered the opportunity to participate in this program in the coming months, and the fund is expected to increase to $3.5 million and leverage more than $11 million in private investment over the next two years.

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Published by the Connecticut Department of Labor, Office of Research
Last Updated: November 5, 2002