Benchmarking Connecticut: Report Outlines State's Strengths and Weaknesses | Connecticut Public Radio

Benchmarking Connecticut: Report Outlines State's Strengths and Weaknesses

Apr 12, 2016

Connecticut’s “new normal” sees its economy underperforming the nation as a whole. But the state still has core strengths that it can leverage in an effort to improve its economic performance.

Those are the messages from a new report that attempts to benchmark the state. It was produced for the state's new Commission on Economic Competitiveness, and carried out pro bono by consultants McKinsey, working with the foundation of the Business Council of Fairfield County.

Chairman of the commission Joseph McGee said the report is a vital first step.

"It was very important that we understood the state of Connecticut's economy," he told a recent meeting of the commission. "There is so much misinformation or exaggerated information or just wrong information in the media, that we felt - what is going on here?"

He's referring to polls and surveys that routinely rank states on their competitiveness, from organizations like Forbes, CNBC, ALEC, the Tax Foundation, and others, that often show wildly different findings on a range of metrics.

The idea behind the report is to provide an unbiased, comprehensive look at Connecticut, to lay to rest some of the uncertainty. 

The data shows how the recession disrupted a long run of economic growth for Connecticut
Credit Connecticut Economic Competitiveness Diagnostic

According to the study, Connecticut grew faster than the national average before the great recession. But in the years since, employment and economic growth have lagged behind the national recovery.

The state is still adversely affected by the global economy because of its strong international ties, and it is also being disrupted by new technologies. It faces competitive threats from nearby, similar states. Its population is aging, and it’s perceived as being in a state of fiscal uncertainty.

On the plus side, the report praises Connecticut’s educational system, its investments in research, and its quality of life. It also says the predominance of blue chip companies in the state and its strategic Northeast location are important.

The study says the state’s challenges include revitalizing its cities, encouraging social equity and addressing its fiscal problems. 

But McGee was careful to describe the report as a diagnostic tool.

"It's not about solutions. The work of this commission is about addressing solutions," he said.