Connecticut's economy expanded last year for the first time since 2015, growing a modest 1%, the seventh slowest in the country.

The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis reports that the information, manufacturing, and real estate sectors led all industries as Connecticut improved from second-to-last in growth in 2017.

Connecticut GDP growth 2015-18

The national economy expanded 2.9% in 2018, while the six New England states averaged 2% growth, led by Massachusetts at 2.7%.

Connecticut's economy has expanded just twice in the last 11 years, growing 1.8% in 2015.

Coupled with the state's sluggish post-recession job growth, the latest GDP numbers clearly illustrate the growing economic gap between Connecticut, the region, and most of the country.

And it's impossible to close that gap as long as the state legislature continues to focus on costly workplace mandates and shies away from government spending cuts and reforms.

Leading Sectors

At $279.65 billion, Connecticut's GDP accounts for 25% of New England's economic output, second only to Massachusetts, which drives 52% of the region's economy.

Connecticut's information sector led all industries last year, expanding 0.35%. That sector is also among the leaders for job growth over the last 12 months.

The state's aerospace and defense sectors continue to drive durable goods manufacturing, which saw 0.33% growth last year, while real estate expanded 0.3% and nondurable goods manufacturing 0.2%.

The latest GDP numbers clearly illustrate the growing economic gap between Connecticut, the region, and most of the country.

Professional, scientific, and technical services grew 0.18%, followed by retail trade (0.13%), healthcare (0.1%), administrative and waste management services (0.09%), and wholesale trade (0.09%).

Finance and insurance—a critical component of the state's economy—again led all contracting industries, shrinking 0.79% last year.

The government sector shrank 0.05%, followed by construction (-0.04%), accommodation and food services (-0.02%), and mining (-0.02%).

Winners and Losers

Massachusetts' strong 2018 growth was propelled by that state's professional, scientific, and technical services, and information sectors.

At 2.2%, New Hampshire's economy grew the second fastest of the New England states, followed by Maine (1.9%), Vermont (1.2%), Connecticut, and Rhode Island (0.6%).

Washington state had the nation's fastest growing economy for a second consecutive year, with its information industries driving overall growth of 5.7%.

Utah's economy grew 4.3%, followed by Idaho (4.1%), Arizona (4%), and Florida (3.5%).

Alaska (-0.3%), Wyoming (0.3%), Delaware (0.3%), Rhode Island, and Montana (0.9%) had the five slowest economies in 2018.