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Connecticut Economic Digest: September 2002 issue
Greenwich Tops in Wages in 2001 | Mass Layoff Trends in Connecticut | The State of the Housing Industry | Occupational Profile: Librarians | Major Steps Taken in Hartford's Inner City Business Strategy | Housing Update

Greenwich Tops in Wages in 2001
By Jungmin Charles Joo, Associate Research Analyst, DOL

The table below profiles all of Connecticut's 169 cities and towns using five economic indicators for 2001. Below are brief highlights from the latest annual average data prepared by the Connecticut Department of Labor's Office of Research.

Labor Force

Stamford continued to have the largest resident labor force of 65,817, while the smallest was in Union with 405 persons in 2001. All but six towns experienced declines in labor force from 2000. Among the State's largest cities, Bridgeport had the greatest decrease in its labor force, -0.6 percent over the year. Overall, the statewide labor force fell by 1.7 percent from a year ago.

Unemployment Rate

Hartford's 6.6 percent was the highest unemployment rate last year, up from 4.8 percent in 2000. Sharon, once again, posted the lowest jobless rate of 1.0 percent. The statewide rate increased from 2.3 in 2000 to 3.3 in 2001.

Establishments

The total number of business establishments in Connecticut rose by 0.5 percent to 108,736 last year. Stamford continued to have the largest number of establishments, with 5,121 units in 2001, a decline of 1.9 percent over the year.

Employment

Last year's average statewide employment fell by 0.5 percent. Hartford, Bridgeport, New Haven, Stamford, and Waterbury were among 93 cities and towns that experienced employment losses over the year.

Wages

In 2001, the highest annual wage of $97,245 was paid to employees of firms located in Greenwich, a 9.4 percent increase from the previous the year. The statewide average was $46,946 per worker, a 3.4 percent increase over 2000.

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Mass Layoff Trends in Connecticut
By John B. Toomey Jr., Associate Research Analyst, DOL

The Connecticut Department of Labor, through a Federal-State cooperative statistical effort, uses a standardized approach to identify, describe, and track the effects of major job cutbacks by using data from the State's unemployment insurance program. Both private and government establishments are included if they have had at least 50 initial claims for unemployment insurance (UI) filed against them during a consecutive five-week period. These establishments are contacted by telephone to determine whether the separations were for more than 30 days in duration. If the layoff is of this duration, it qualifies as an extended mass layoff event. Confidential information obtained during the telephone interview includes the reasons for the separations, the total number of employees separated, the establishment's employment level before the separating event occurred, and the recall expectations of the establishment.

Establishments are identified according to industry classification and location. Unemployment insurance claimants' demographic characteristics are identified, including age, gender, race/ethnic group, and place of residence. In addition, information is obtained on an individual's entire spell of unemployment during the survey quarter, to the point when regular unemployment insurance benefits are exhausted. Any information published is in summary form only; no information can be released that would identify an individual person or business.

Extended Mass Layoffs

The number of extended mass layoff events in Connecticut has been increasing since 1999 when there were 33 events in which 12,573 workers were idled for more than 30 days. The total number of layoff events in 2000 was slightly higher at 36, although there were fewer separations at 9,361. In 2001, 60 mass layoff events by businesses in Connecticut resulted in 15,008 workers becoming idle for more than 30 days. The increase in mass layoffs is a reflection of the downturn in the State's economy that began in mid-2000.

There were 8,572 initial UI claims filed by workers affected by the extended mass layoffs during 2001. Of those, 820 received a final benefit payment which exhausted their benefits. This compares with 5,370 initial claims in the year 2000, and 1,191 exhaustion payments.

Nearly 16 percent of initial claimants, who were out of work for more than 30 days in 2001 due to mass layoffs, were black, a figure unchanged from 2000. Workers of Hispanic origin comprised nine percent of total extended mass layoffs, also the same as a year earlier. In addition, 48.9 percent of total initial claimants were female, down slightly from 49.2 percent in 2000. Claimants 55 years of age and over comprised 15.5 percent of all claimants associated with extended mass layoffs in 2001, up from a year earlier when they comprised 14.7 percent of the workforce.

The reason for cutbacks most cited by employers involved in these events was the usual seasonal endings or slowdowns in business activity. This reason alone accounted for nearly one third of all events and resulted in 6,937 separations in 2001. Other reasons stated for layoffs were company reorganization (12 percent) and financial difficulty (10 percent).

Permanent Closures

Thirteen worksites meeting the extended mass layoff criteria closed during 2001 in Connecticut. This compares with eight closures in 2000, more than a 60 percent increase. The number of jobs affected in 2001 was 3,609. This was a 75 percent increase over the number of separations in 2000, which totaled 2,061.

For more information on Mass Layoffs, contact John Toomey by calling 263-6302 or by emailing john.toomey@po.state.ct.us.

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The State of the Housing Industry
By Kolie Sun Chang, Senior Research Analyst, DECD

The housing market in Connecticut remains strong despite the current economic downturn. With mortgage rates at a 35-year low, recent stock market tumbles, and dot-com companies collapsed, investors have diverted their attention to real estate. Americans now treat the purchase of residential real estate as the investment of choice in times of economic uncertainty, according to a new study from the Milken Institute.

Thus, housing has stayed tight over the past 18 months. Realtors report that houses are selling quickly once they are put on the market and that selling prices are sometimes higher than the asking prices. The Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD), which is the State's lead agency in housing matters and tracks new residential permits, reports the year-to-date authorizations on housing permits through June 2002 are up nearly six percent compared with a year ago. This translates into more new homes that will be supplied in this tight market.

Sales Prices

Connecticut's economy often mirrors the national economy, and so does its housing sector. Nationwide, housing values appreciated an average of 7.4 percent during 2001 according to statistics from the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight. In Connecticut, according to the 2000 Census and data compiled by the Connecticut Policy and Economic Council (CPEC), the median price of homes shot up to $166,900, a 20.9 percent increase from $138,000 in 1996, and an 11.3 percent rise from $149,900 in 1999. Around the state, the median value of homes in 2000 ranged from $288,900 in Fairfield County to $117,200 in Windham County.

Housing Production

Total housing production in 2001 almost kept pace with the previous year, with 9,290 new housing units authorized and added to Connecticut's housing inventory. The production level was lower by less than one percent (or 86 units) when compared with the 9,376 units approved in 2000. Among the new units, 7,835 were single-family homes and the remainder were for multi-family dwellings. The DECD's annual survey collected a total of 1,733 demolition permits. The demolished units in Hartford, West Haven, New Haven, Bridgeport and Greenwich combined accounted for almost half of the total demolitions. As a result, the statewide housing net gain was 7,557 units.

In addition, the average single unit of construction posted a five percent gain in valuation. The valuation of construction is the cost of construction as recorded on the building permit. The average construction value of single unit housing increased from $162,845 in 2000 to $170,924 in 2001. The total investment in authorized construction activity was an estimated $1.44 billion during 2001.

The combined share of new housing units in the largest three counties in the State remained the same as a year ago at 63 percent. However, development in each county varied greatly from 2000 to 2001. The number of housing units in Fairfield County stayed flat, while Hartford County showed almost a 19 percent increase, and New Haven County declined more than 17 percent over the same period.

Rental Housing

Census 2000 reports nearly 430,000 renter occupied housing units in Connecticut. More than three-quarters of them were in the three largest counties. Rental rates vary from region to region, but the statewide median rent of $681 was down 11 percent from the 1990 Census inflation-adjusted figure of $764. However, over 37 percent of renters spend at least 30 percent of their household income on rent, versus the industry standard of 28 percent of income on housing. This means more than one-third of renters are spending a larger portion of their income on housing and, therefore, have less available for other expenses.

Conclusion

One of the biggest American dreams is home ownership, and purchasing a house may be the most important investment in a person's lifetime. Today's housing market has kept pace with last year's and continues to experience significant demand. Housing supply and demand, affordability, and homeownership remain important issues in Connecticut and probably will for the foreseeable future.

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Occupational Profile: Librarians
By Erin C. Wilkins, Research Analyst, DOL

Introduction

In 1653 the Boston Public Library opened, becoming the first public library in America. In 1732, Benjamin Franklin began a circulating library, the Library Company of Philadelphia. By 1876, The American Library Association had formed to improve library methods and train employees; today they estimate that there are more public libraries than McDonald's. Even remote areas are reached by traveling libraries, or "bookmobiles." At the center of every library is the all-knowing, shushing librarian.

What Do They Do?

Librarians use analytical, organizational, and communicative skills to assist people in finding information and using it effectively for professional and personal use. They select, acquire, catalogue, classify, circulate, and maintain library materials including books, newspapers, periodicals, microfiche, and maps. No longer limited to print media, librarians also draw on the Internet, CD-ROM, virtual libraries and remote resources; they may set up or work with databases and information systems to catalogue and access information. Librarians may perform in-depth research, analyze, edit, and filter information. As librarians advance into supervisory or director positions, they become more involved with budgetary concerns, administrative duties, and overseeing workers. Librarians can be found in a variety of settings: public libraries, schools, colleges and universities, museums, corporations, government agencies, law firms, non-profit organizations, and healthcare providers. More than two out of 10 librarians work part-time.

For many librarians, their time is primarily dedicated to providing customer service. They draw on their knowledge of resources and technology to assist users in finding and understanding information. As more libraries include public access computers, they are called on to teach the basics of computer use. With growing multi-lingual populations, librarians are developing selections and services in other languages, most notably in Spanish. They may also coordinate community events such as book sales, book clubs, and authors' lectures. Children's librarians will confer with teachers, parents and community groups to assist in developing resources and programs to further children's education.

Education and Training

Most librarian positions require a master's degree in Library Science (MLS), and preference is given to graduates from schools accredited by the American Library Association (www.ala.org). In Connecticut, Southern Connecticut State University is the only school to offer this degree. For school librarians, employers often prefer graduates with a specialty in school library media from a college or university accredited by the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education. A Ph.D. degree is advantageous for a college teaching position, or a top administrative job in a college or university library or large library system. Any liberal arts bachelor degree is an acceptable prerequisite. However, work in specialized libraries such as law or medicine may require a bachelor's or master's degree in their area of expertise.

Earnings

Librarian wages vary depending on the position, with primarily administrative positions earning more. Overall, the 2000 national average wage for librarians was $41,700. In Connecticut, the 2001 average annual wage for librarians was $49,800. The average entry-level wage was $35,995. The Stamford Labor Market Area (LMA) paid the highest average at $57,750; the lowest average wage was found in the Bridgeport LMA at $45,640 (see chart).

Employment Outlook

In Connecticut, librarians are expected to experience a decline in jobs, with a two percent drop in employment levels each year through 2008. However, 80 librarians will be needed each year to replace workers retiring, dying, and otherwise leaving the occupation, keeping librarians in high demand. Librarians seeking positions in rural areas or in nontraditional settings, such as information brokers, private corporations, and consulting firms will face less competition for positions.

On a national level, the American Library Association reports that librarians have a high median age of 47 years, and almost 58 percent of professional librarians will reach the age of 65 between 2005 and 2009. Since 87 percent of librarians are white and 81 percent are women, the American Library Association reports efforts to diversify the workforce through scholarships and awareness campaigns.

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Major Steps Taken in Hartford's Inner City Business Strategy
September 2002 Economic Digest Article

Businesses surveyed in 1999 said they wanted it. The more than 200 community leaders overseeing the research said the businesses should have it. The Governor's Council on Economic Competitiveness and Technology agreed it would contribute to the State's overall competitiveness, and so the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) has funded the Hartford Economic Development Commission (HEDC) to implement the Hartford Enterprise Partnership (HEP). 

A key recommendation of the Hartford Inner City Business Strategy, HEDC has received a two-year, $200,000 grant from DECD to establish the HEP, which will be a clearinghouse for business services and information in the capital city. And Robert E. Patricelli, Chief Executive Officer of two local health care companies, is now leading this initiative in his new role as Hartford's City Champion, a private-sector leader who represents his city and the statewide inner-city business initiative on the Governor's Council. 

The Inner City Business Strategy, a component of the state's Industry Cluster Initiative, uses market-based strategies to strengthen the business base in five of Connecticut's inner cities (Bridgeport, Hartford, New Britain, New Haven and Waterbury). The goal is to increase the income, wealth and employment opportunities for inner-city residents by promoting business development. To read more about the Hartford Inner City Business Strategy, visit www.decd.org or www.YouBelongInCT.com.

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Housing Update
July Permits: Housing Market Still Strong

Commissioner James F. Abromaitis of the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development announced that Connecticut communities authorized 927 new housing units in July 2002, a 1.9 percent increase compared to July of 2001 when 910 units were authorized.

The Department further indicated that the 927 units permitted in July 2002 represent an 18.5 percent increase from the 782 units permitted in June 2002. The year-to-date permits are up 5.2 percent, from 5,439 through July 2001, to 5,723 through July 2002.

The New Haven Labor Market Area added 131 new housing units, an increase of 48 units compared to a year ago. Both Ellington and Wallingford led all Connecticut communities with 40 units each, followed by Berlin with 25 and Greenwich with 23 units. From a county perspective, Tolland County had the largest percentage gain (71.2 percent) compared to a year ago.

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