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Connecticut Economic Digest: March 2003 issue
Employment Declines for the Second Year | Occupational Profile: Social and Human Service Assistants | Industry Clusters | Housing Update

Employment Declines for the Second Year
By Jungmin Charles Joo, Research Analyst, DOL

Beginning with this issue, the nonfarm employment estimates prepared by the Department of Labor will use the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). An article describing the conversion from the Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) system to NAICS-based nonfarm employment estimates appeared in the December 2002 issue, "Nonfarm employment data under NAICS, " Historical employment time series have been reconstructed on a NAICS basis back to 1990. The tables of annual average employment data by selected industry sector for the State and seven labor market areas are on pages 3 and 4. Due to recent layoffs and the need to prioritize work, nonfarm data for the three smallest labor market areas, Danielson, Lower River and Torrington, are no longer being prepared for publication.

In 2002

The newly released revised annual average data show that Connecticut nonfarm employment declined for the second year in 2002 by 0.8 percent, or 13,300 jobs. In 2001, 12,100 jobs (-0.7 percent) were lost. In fact, the revised data clearly show that Connecticut's seasonally adjusted total nonfarm employment, which peaked in July 2000, has been dropping steadily, and more precipitously beginning the second half of last year.

The unemployment rate also rose another full percentage point to 4.3 percent in 2002, as the number of initial claims for unemployment increased further last year. The Hartford help-wanted index dropped for the fourth consecutive year to its lowest level in the last 13 years. Moreover, real personal income of Connecticut residents fell for the first time last year since 1991.

Industry Sectors

Last year's downturn was once again marked by severe job cuts of nearly 14,000 in manufacturing. Its output, as measured in Connecticut Manufacturing Production Index, also dropped for the fourth straight year.

It was also a bad year for the information and the professional and business services sectors. Each experienced a significant loss of jobs over the year, specifically in the computer systems design and administrative and support industries, respectively. The trade, transportation, and utilities sector also lost jobs in 2002.

On the other hand, the educational and health services, government, and leisure and hospitality sectors gained jobs over 2001. The largest number of new jobs were in the health care and social assistance industry.

From a historical point of view, under NAICS, employment in the educational and health services sector grew the fastest (+31.2 percent), followed by professional and business services (+18.3 percent) and leisure and hospitality (+14.4 percent). Growth in Indian tribal operations lifted overall government employment by 18.4 percent.

Manufacturing lost almost one third of its jobs since 1990. The financial activities (-6.8 percent), information (-2.4 percent), and trade, transportation, and utilities (-1.9 percent) sectors all showed employment in 2002 slightly lower than their 1990 levels.

Labor Market Areas

In 2002, four of the seven major labor market areas (LMAs) in Connecticut lost jobs. This was an improvement over the prior year when six of the seven areas experienced declines. The percentages of job decline ranged from 0.2 percent in the Bridgeport LMA to 3.0 percent in the Stamford LMA. The New London, Danbury, and New Haven LMAs added jobs over the year. Only the New London LMA has shown employment growth over each of the last two years since the State's current recession began.

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Occupational Profile: Social and Human Service Assistants
By Noreen Passardi, Economist, DOL


Social and human service assistant is a generic term encompassing various titles such as Case Management Aide, Community Support Worker, Mental Health Aide, Community Outreach Worker, Life Skill Counselor, and Gerontology Aide.

They work under the direction of professionals from a variety of fields, such as nursing, psychiatry, psychology, rehabilitative or physical therapy, or social work. For applicants with the appropriate postsecondary education, job opportunities should be excellent as it is projected to be among the fastest growing occupations.

What They Do

Social and human service assistants perform a range of personal care services to clients who may be at home, in a half-way house, group shelter, psychiatric hospital, in a rehabilitation program, at an outpatient clinic or in a community-based program. They assess clients' needs, help clients obtain any benefits they are eligible for (such as Food Stamps, Medicaid or welfare), provide transportation to medical appointments and the like, assist in personal financial matters, and provide emotional support to the client and the clients' family. In halfway houses, group homes, and government-supported housing programs, they may assist adults who need supervision with personal hygiene and daily living skills. They confer with other medical personnel to gain better insight into the clients' background and needs. Community-based assistants may organize and lead group activities, assist clients in need of counseling or crisis intervention, or administer a food bank or emergency fuel program. In psychiatric hospitals, rehabilitation programs, and outpatient clinics, they may have the specialized task of teaching clients how to get along better with others and how to communicate more effectively.

Education and Training

While a bachelor's degree usually is not required for entry into this occupation, employers increasingly seek individuals with relevant work experience or education beyond high school. Certificates or associate degrees in subjects such as social work, human services, gerontology, or one of the social or behavioral sciences meet most employers' requirements. Educational attainment often influences the kind of work employees may be assigned and the degree of responsibility that may be entrusted to them. Workers with a high school education are likely to receive extensive on-the-job training to work in direct-care services, while employees with a college degree might be assigned to do supportive counseling, coordinate program activities, or manage a group home. Hiring requirements in group homes tend to be more stringent in that an applicant needs a valid driving license and submits to a criminal background investigation. Employers try to select applicants who have effective communication skills, a strong sense of responsibility, and the ability to manage time effectively. Many human service jobs involve direct contact with people who are vulnerable to exploitation or mistreatment; therefore, patience, understanding, and a strong desire to help others are highly valued characteristics.


In 2001 there were 283,060 social and human service assistants in the United States, earning $24,660 on average. An estimated 5,870 of these workers were in Connecticut, earning more at $29,715. By region, employment in the Danbury area was the lowest with 40 positions but earnings the highest at $37,740. The Hartford area had the highest employment, 2,310, and ranked second highest in earnings with $33,320.

Job Outlook

Job opportunities for social and human service assistants are expected to be excellent, attributed in part to the aging population and as social welfare policies shift focus from benefit-based to work-based programs. Opportunities are expected to be best in job-training programs, residential care facilities, and private social service agencies, which include such services as adult daycare. In addition, social and human service assistants will continue to be needed to provide services to pregnant teenagers, the homeless, the mentally disabled and developmentally challenged, and those with substance-abuse problems. Connecticut is expected to add over 300 jobs annually through 2008, with there being more competition for jobs in urban areas than for those in rural areas.

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Industry Clusters
Pfizer to Build Clinical Research Unit in New Haven

In an important milestone for Connecticut's bioscience cluster, Pfizer has announced plans to build a state-of-the-art clinical research unit in New Haven, Connecticut to confirm the safety and action of new medicines.

Over the next two years, Pfizer will invest approximately $35 million to build and equip the new unit in the city's downtown. The 60,000 square-foot facility will include 50 beds and will employ 40-50 staff.

The 2.5 acre site, between Park and Howe streets, is owned by the State of Connecticut, which has designated the area for bioscience investment. In exchange for Pfizer's investment, the State, through the DECD's Office of BioScience, will convey its land to Pfizer. Construction is scheduled to begin in the fall of 2003 and the research unit is expected to open in 2005.

Clinical research is essential to the development of new medicines. Some studies at the new unit will be undertaken in collaboration with nearby Yale University School of Medicine, a world leader in imaging technology. Using PET (positron emission tomography) and other scanning technology, Yale scientists will be able to track medicines to better understand their action and how they are metabolized in the body.

Pharmaceuticals' contributions to the State's Gross State Product were nearly $2.5 billion in 2000, almost double 1996 levels.

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Housing Update
2003 Permits Off to a Good Start

Commissioner James F. Abromaitis of the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development announced that Connecticut communities authorized 629 new housing units in January 2003, a 4.7 percent increase compared to January of 2002 when 601 units were authorized.

The Department further indicated that the 629 units permitted in January 2003 represent a 4.0 percent increase from the 605 units permitted in December 2002.

Hartford led all communities with 109 units, followed by Darien with 90 and Torrington with 14. The Stamford Labor Market Area (LMA) recorded the largest increase in authorized units in January (82), a 234 percent increase compared to a year ago. This increase can be attributed to the one large complex in Darien. From a county perspective, only Hartford, Fairfield and New London counties surpassed last year’s levels.

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Published by the Connecticut Department of Labor, Office of Research
Last Updated: April 1, 2003