Census says CT still rich, but wage gap persists and population stagnant
Washington – Connecticut continues to be one of the highest-income states in the nation, but its population is stagnant and may even be on the downturn, and there’s a huge gap between the incomes of white state residents and minorities.
Those were some of the latest findings of the U.S. Census Bureau, which released its latest American Community Survey on Thursday. Unlike the nationwide census conducted every 10 years, which aims to seek information from every household, the ACS is an ongoing study of demographic trends that surveys about 3.5 million Americans a year.
It showed that median income in Connecticut continues to grow and was at $73,433, the fifth highest in the nation, in 2016.
Maryland had the nation’s highest median income, $78,945, followed by Alaska, New Jersey and Hawaii.
The national median income in 2016 was $57,617.
The survey showed 38.6 percent of Connecticut’s adults have a bachelor’s degree, the fourth highest share of any state. It also said an estimated 8.8 percent of the state’s workforce is employed in generally high-paying finance and insurance jobs.
While Connecticut has a high median income, the census report showed white residents had a much higher median income, $84,030, than minorities. The median income of Hispanics in Connecticut in 2016 was $46,808 and the median income for blacks was $43,236.
“Connecticut has a lot of jobs that pay relatively well, including in the finance field,” said David Weakliem, a professor of sociology at the University of Connecticut. “But for people without a good education, it’s hard to find a good-paying job.”
Discrimination may also play a role.
A recent Pew Center study showed that college-educated black and Hispanic men earn roughly 80 percent the hourly wages of white college-educated men, ($25 and $26 vs. $32, respectively).
The ACS also showed that marriages are on the decline nationally and even more so in Connecticut.
The percentage of never-married adults in Connecticut was 35.2 percent last year, and the percentage of married couples a was 46.9 percent. Nationally, the percentage of never-married Americans was 33.7 percent and the number of married 47.5 percent.
The dip in the marriage rate, both in the nation and Connecticut, is attributable to a number of factors. Millennials are postponing marriage at higher rates that other generational groups; the economy has provided fewer good jobs for those who are not well educated — affecting unskilled men particularly hard as they are not seen as good marriage material; and more couples prefer to live together and have children outside of marriage.
Connecticut’s population remains stagnant, and may even be dropping.
The ACS said the state’s population was 3,541,000 last year, down from 3,554,000 in 2015 and from 3,562,000 in 2013. This demographic count had a 1.8 percent margin of error, so it’s hard to tell exactly how much the state’s population has shrunk, if at all. But it’s clear it’s not growing like that of other states, especially those in the South and West.
The ACS also said Connecticut’s median age was 40.9 years in 2016, compared to 39.1 years in 2006.
The national median age was 37.9 years in 2016.
The census also shows there’s been a steady drop in Connecticut residents aged 35 to 49 years old and an increase in those 50 or older.
Connecticut is also among the states with the highest income inequality, which means it has a large income gap between its rich and poor residents. Florida, Louisiana and New York were also among the top income-inequality states.
Weakliem said the state’s failure to revitalize cities like Hartford is partly to blame for the state’s bad demographic trends, but said New Haven has taken steps to revitalize and Hartford could, too.
“If people with money to spend move into an area, they create jobs,” Weakliem said. “That’s good for everybody.”
He also said many college-aged youth attend schools outside Connecticut and resettle near their colleges and universities. Others are lured by a revitalized New York City, “which is so close by.”
Will the census trends continue in Connecticut, at least for a while?
“I think in a general way, they will,” Weakliem said.
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