State’s Population Growth Slows After Pandemic Boost
Connecticut’s population grew by just 2,850 people in 2022, a year after the state saw its best growth in more than a decade.
U.S. Census Bureau data shows Connecticut’s 0.08% population growth rate ranked 28th among all states last year.
Connecticut added a net 66,000 residents in 2021 (0.72%), largely driven by an influx of New York City residents during the pandemic.
That was 12th best in the U.S. and marked Connecticut’s best net gain of the past decade, with the state’s population declining between 2014 and 2020.
Florida’s population grew 1.9% in 2022, the largest of all states in percentage terms, while New York saw the greatest loss, declining 0.9%.
The Northeast region’s population declined 0.38% last year while the U.S. population grew 0.38%.
Connecticut’s slow population growth over the last decade-plus is one of the major contributing factors behind the state’s worker shortage crisis.
The state’s labor force has declined by 52,100 people since February 2020—representing 39% of the New England region’s losses during that period.
At the same time, employers across multiple industry sectors are struggling to find workers—at all levels—to fill the state’s 97,000 job openings.
CBIA president and CEO Chris DiPentima calls the worker shortage the “greatest threat to the state’s economic growth prospects.”
“We do not have the available workers to fill all open positions,” DiPentima said.
“Even if every unemployed person was hired tomorrow, we’d still have 17,400 open jobs.”
‘Jobs Going Begging’
Gov. Ned Lamont acknowledged the state’s slow population growth during his State-of-the-State address before a joint session of the General Assembly this week.
“We have 100,000 jobs going begging in our state. Why is that?” he said.
“One, a smaller share of our working age population is working. Two, our population is growing but growing too slowly.
“And many of these unfilled jobs require extra training.”
Lamont acknowledged the connection between the state’s high cost of living and its economic struggles, calling for middle-class tax cuts and relief from healthcare and energy costs.
“But the biggest slam to our affordability and economic growth is housing, or the lack thereof,” he said.
“Every business thinking about moving or expanding repeats over and over, ‘Even if you had the workforce, there is no place for them to live.'”
DiPentima said Lamont’s address “laid a good framework” for addressing the state’s challenges, noting that CBIA’s Transform Connecticut policy solutions offer “meaningful details” to support that framework.
“Our Transform Connecticut policy recommendations focus on addressing the factors driving the worker shortage, including slow population growth,” he said.
“These solutions will lower the cost of living and doing business, promote the state as a destination, and help retain and attract residents.”
The Transform Connecticut solutions, supported by a bipartisan group of lawmakers representing almost half the state legislature, include:
- Incentivizing developers and municipalities to build workforce housing on former brownfield sites and in opportunity zones
- Helping residents struggling with student loans by incentivizing employers to provide employees with loan or tuition reimbursement
- Making it easier for small businesses to access and provide affordable health insurance options for employees
- Reducing the number of years for transferability of out-of-state occupational licenses from three years to one year
- Determining the feasibility of public universities using H-1B cap exempt visas to promote workforce development, using the Massachusetts model as a guide for filling in-demand jobs
“This is about opening doors to opportunity for all communities and residents and leveraging the state’s many strengths to make our economy more vibrant, robust, and equitable,” DiPentima said.
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