Connecticut’s manufacturing sector continued to shed jobs over the past year, but the losses came at a slower pace than in previous years, according to a recent report.
Manufacturers lost 917 jobs between June 2014 and June 2015, representing about 0.5 percent of the workforce, according to Manufacturers’ News Inc. (MNI), an Illinois-based data company that compiles and publishes industrial directories and databases.
“Connecticut still struggles with high business costs and is especially vulnerable to the loss of defense contracts, and this continues to affect the state’s industrial sector,” MNI President Tom Dubin said in a statement. “However, with a highly educated workforce and abundance of capital drawing more innovative companies to the state, this year’s minimal loss could actually be the beginning of a turnaround.”
The state has 5,042 manufacturing companies employing 205,523 workers, according to to MNI. Employment in the sector has fallen 3.7 percent over the past five years, so the 0.5-percent dip over the past year is an improvement.
The report, however, lists the opening of GE Industrial Solutions’ Advanced Manufacturing Lab in Plainville as a “bright spot for Connecticut manufacturing” — something that could be in danger if General Electric Co. makes good on its threat to leave the state.
Company officials oppose some of the business tax increases included in the final version of the state budget, and are considering moving GE — and its 5,700 Connecticut employees — out of the state.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said this week that he met with leaders of Fairfield-based GE earlier this month.
“They had us in. We made a presentation. They’ve had a number of other states in. They’re not going to go to all the states they’re talking to, and they’re not going to necessarily stay here or not stay here,” Malloy said Monday. “We don’t know what the situation is until they’ve made a decision. We don’t have the opportunity to make it for them.”
Other bright spots cited in the manufacturing report included the expansion of Leipold Inc. in Windsor and FuelCell Energy in Torrington. It also mentioned new legislation allowing marijuana processing in Connecticut, which has spurred several new companies, including Theraplant, Curaleaf, and Advanced Grow Labs.
However, there also were companies that announced closures in the past year, according to the report: Fusion Paperboard in Sprague; Acuity Brands in Wallingford; Allegheny Technologies Inc., also in Wallingford; and Smiths Detection in Danbury.
MNI found the past year’s job losses were spread across various sub-sectors, including furniture and fixtures, printing and publishing, rubber and plastics, stone and glass, and industrial machinery.
Job gains, meanwhile, came in the transportation equipment subsector, which is up 2.3 percent. That is the state’s largest manufacturing industry, by number of jobs, employing 35,155 workers.
The medical instruments and related products industry, as well as the electronics industry, also added jobs, each growing 1.7 percent, according to the report.
Stratford, home to Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., had the most manufacturing jobs in the state over the past year with 9,093. Still, manufacturing jobs there fell by 2.7 percent, according to MNI.
Sikorsky’s parent company, United Technologies Corp. announced in July that it will sell Sikorsky to Lockheed Martin Corp. for $9 billion by the end of this year or early in 2016. It remains to be seen whether Maryland-based Lockheed Martin will move any Sikorsky jobs out of Connecticut.
Bristol had the second-highest number of manufacturing jobs in the past year at 8,552, down 1.2 percent; followed by North Haven with 7,599, down 1 percent.