Officially, the Great Recession lasted 22 months in Connecticut, which was four months longer than the national duration, but its impact was felt more heavily by younger workers and minorities, according to a labor report issued Thursday by an advocacy group.
The Connecticut Voices for Children report found that while the impact of the recession was felt in towns across Connecticut, rural and urban areas were especially hard-hit.
Cities with the highest unemployment rates are Hartford at 16.4 percent, Waterbury at 14.5 percent, Bridgeport at 14.3 percent, New Haven at 13.8 percent, and New Britain at 13.2 percent. Among rural towns, the highest rates are in Plainfield 11.7 percent, and Sprague 11.2 percent.
While unemployment continues to be stubbornly high across the state, it is wreaking particular havoc in three specific – and dramatically different – areas; namely, the state’s poor urban centers, declining manufacturing towns in the Naugatuck River Valley, and the rural I-395 corridor along the eastern border of the state, the report says.
Manufacturing, which is concentrated in the cities and more rural areas of the state suffered the most, losing nearly 21,000 jobs.
The state lost 119,000 jobs during the recession, which started in March 2008 and ended in January 2010, but the high unemployment rate wasn’t evenly distributed.
The burden has been borne disproportionately by our youngest jobseekers, and by racial and ethnic minorities in the labor force.
Unemployment is highest among young workers at 18.2 percent, Hispanics at 17.7 percent, and African-Americans at 15.6 percent.
“It is troubling that so much of our future workforce – especially young workers and the growing Hispanic population—is unemployed now,” Orlando Rodriguez, senior policy fellow at Connecticut Voices and co-author of the report, said. “This trend does not bode well for our future.”
In 2006, unemployment among African-Americans and Hispanics stood at 8.3 and 8.2 percent respectively, compared to 3.3 percent among whites. However, as the recession began in March 2008, unemployment increased at faster rates for racial and ethnic minorities. From 2006 to 2010, unemployment for Hispanics increased by 9.5 percentage points; by 7.3 percentage points for African-Americans; and by 4.2 percentage point for whites.
Age also played a role in the state’s unemployment statistics.
By a large margin, Connecticut’s youngest jobseekers experienced the toughest labor market last year: 18.2 percent of those aged 16 to 24 were unemployed in 2010, and 30.7 percent of young adults were considered underemployed.
Both unemployment and underemployment were lowest among older adults age 55 and over. However, older workers had the highest rate of long-term unemployment with more than 60 percent of the oldest jobseekers out of work for more than 26 weeks in 2010, the report found.
The report also pointed out that recent graduates from the Connecticut State University system are increasingly forced into part-time jobs as unemployment rates increase for recent college graduates.
A survey conducted by CSUS reported a decrease in full-time employment for their graduates. At CSUS, unemployment for graduates doubled from 5 percent, in
2006, to 10 percent, in 2010.
The final half of the report was dedicated to outlining specific steps lawmakers and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy can take to resolve these looming issues.
Malloy has called the legislature to return this fall to address job creation and economic growth. As part of his effort to better understand the situation Malloy has embarked on a tour of several companies. Malloy has also been busy promoting his “First Five” initiative which offers tax incentives to companies to stay and grow in the state.
“An effective economic strategy for Connecticut must broaden opportunities for all Connecticut workers,” Matt Santacroce, co-author and policy fellow at Connecticut Voices, said in a press release. “We can’t afford an economy that leaves so many of our workers behind.”
Connecticut Voices recommended lawmakers look at development of a comprehensive economic strategy, investments in education and training, and ways to reduce the high cost of energy, housing, and health care.