From growing unemployment to a growing state budget shortfall, Connecticut’s economy remains tepid at best. In a hunt for possible sources of job growth in the Nutmeg State, the Winter 2013 issue of The Connecticut Economy: A University of Connecticut Quarterly Review, introduces a new report card on the state’s manufacturing sector and examines the sector’s potential to become a catalyst for future economic growth. The guest commentary from UConn alum Bob Luther, founder and CEO of Lex Products Corporation (a maker of electrical and distribution systems), offers suggestions for turning challenging economic times into opportunities for manufacturing success in Connecticut. Quarterly editors also assess the impact of both private and public employment on economic output and offer a short primer on the economics of seized property connected with illegal activity.
Editors of The Connecticut Economy presented their findings on Wednesday, December 12, 2013 at Lex Products Corporation. After the briefing, attendees toured Lex’s state-of-the-art manufacturing facility and discussed recent economic developments and ongoing challenges over lunch. Lex is The Connecticut Economy’s newest sustaining partner
Though Connecticut slowed its rate of job loss in 2013-Q3, it may have to wait until the second half of 2013 to begin notching significant employment gains, according to the latest Quarterly forecast. And this dour outlook assumes the state, along with the nation, avoids the dreaded fiscal cliff. If not, Connecticut could lose another 20,000 jobs or more, erasing all the progress it’s made in the recovery to date, before growth resumes in 2014.
Although manufacturing in the Nutmeg state isn’t the jobs engine it once was, reports of its demise – like the premature obituaries of Mark Twain – are greatly exaggerated. Steven Lanza, the Quarterly’s executive editor, developed a new report card of manufacturing activity. Ranking 6th out of 50 states, Connecticut manufacturers show that they remain a vital part of the state’s economic present and promise to play a key role in its future.
There’s still a wide divergence of opinion over the “right” level of public employment. It’s no coincidence that health care, education and prisons are among the most controversial topics in the ongoing debate about government’s appropriate role in the economy. Quarterly co-editor Dennis Heffley combs through years of cross-state data to weigh the relative contribution of public and private employment to economic output.
Under federal and state laws, property connected with illegal activity can be forfeited to the government. Seized assets now provide a significant source of funding for local governments in Connecticut, says Derek M. Johnson, a lecturer in UConn’s Department of Economics. In 2003, for example, the state reported $2.6 million in receipts from drug asset forfeitures. Johnson’s article examines how forfeiture rules can distort police activities by encouraging officials to maximize forfeiture proceeds at the expense of other law enforcement objectives.
In other articles and features, the Quarterly reports the latest data and forecasts of jobs, unemployment, housing prices and permits for the four largest market areas in the state, provides tables, charts and commentary on labor market activity, and maps the concentration of manufacturing by town across the state in 2011.
The Connecticut Economy is published quarterly by UConn’s Department of Economics. For free access to this and other issues of the publication, dating back to 1993, visit: http://cteconomy.uconn.edu/.