Nine in 10 Connecticut manufacturers struggle to find and retain workers, the sector’s biggest barrier to growth according to a report released today. 

The 2021 Connecticut Manufacturing Report, produced by CBIA and affiliates CONNSTEP and ReadyCT—and made possible through the support of RSM—reviews the state of the sector, examines the impact of state and federal policies, and explores the outlook for the next 12 months, including growth factors, legislative priorities, and hiring and investment trends.

Released at the annual Made in Connecticut: Manufacturing Summit, the survey captures how the state’s manufacturing community is navigating coronavirus pandemic disruptions, transitioning from what essentially was a survival phase to pursuing growth opportunities. 

Key Takeaways

  • 88% of manufacturers reported difficulty finding and retaining workers and 41% call the labor shortage the main obstacle to growth
  • 44% expect their workforce to grow in the next six months, a 24-point jump over last year
  • Almost two-thirds (64%) of manufacturers reported profits in 2020, down from 76% in 2019
  • Seventy percent expect a profitable 2021, with just 10% forecasting losses
  • Over half (53%) see their businesses growing, up from 18% last year, while just 12% forecast contraction
  • Forty percent expect Connecticut’s economy to grow (compared with just 10% last year), and 58% expect national growth (32%)
  • 58% of employers report at least 75% of their employees are fully vaccinated
  • 87% of manufacturers applied for a federal Paycheck Protection Program loan and 14% for other U.S. Small Business Administration loans or grants

Recovery Challenges

“It’s clear from this report that Connecticut manufacturers are optimistic about the future, although their optimism is marked by caution as our recovery faces many challenges,” said CBIA president and CEO Chris DiPentima.

“And there is no greater challenge than the labor shortage—despite thousands of job openings, the manufacturing sector has recovered just 38% of COVID-related job losses, well below the state’s recovery rate.

“How do we get people back into the manufacturing workforce? The jobs are there and it’s clear that we need a more aggressive approach to resolve this issue.

"There is no greater challenge than the labor shortage—despite thousands of job openings, the manufacturing sector has recovered just 38% of COVID-related job losses."

CBIA's Chris DiPentima

“Lawmakers must continue supporting policies that will help manufacturers— particularly small and medium-sized manufacturers—recruit and retain employees.” 

CBIA surveyed 858 top manufacturing executives from August 4 through September 8 throughout the state. The survey had a response rate of 25% and a margin of error of +/-3%.

Seventy percent of manufacturers who responded to the survey employ fewer than 50 employees, while 84% have less than 100 employees.

The average age of surveyed companies was 58 years, with 90% in operation for more than 20 years. Only three firms have less than 10 years in operation, and 22 are more than 100 years old.


CBIA is Connecticut's largest business organization, with thousands of member companies, small and large, representing a diverse range of industries from every part of the state. For more information, please email or call Ali Warshavsky (860.244.1929).