Connecticut is known as the “land of steady habits,” but over the course of 10 years, little changes add up.
In the early 2010s, Connecticut was still mired in the aftermath of the Great Recession, former Gov. Dannel P. Malloy had raised taxes and the state budget was in a “permanent state of fiscal crisis,” officials said.
The panic alarms were ringing. Stories were published about residents fleeing for other states; major corporate headquarters threatened to, or did, leave; and it was hard to find an aspect of the state that wasn’t described as “struggling.”
But since then, the state has changed — financially, demographically and politically.
Racial diversity, living affordability, migration in and out of the state, public education, educational attainment, job industries, Fortune 500 companies, political parties, greenhouse emissions and leading causes of death have all shifted in Connecticut over the last decade or so, some more than others. These 10 charts tell part of Connecticut’s story.
Since 2011, the white population has remained the largest racial group in the state, according to Census Bureau data. However, its share of the total population has fallen from just below 72% to about 65% in 2021, or from 2.5 million to 2.3 million, an 8% decrease.
Meanwhile, every other racial group’s share of the population increased.
The group with the biggest change in its share was the Hispanic or Latino population, which went from 13% of state residents to almost 17%. The Hispanic or Latino population grew by more than 146,000 people, to an estimated total of just over 610,000, a 31% increase.
Every other group increased its share by less than 2 percentage points.
The Asian population saw an increase of almost 33,000 people to an estimated total of over 165,000 (a 24.8% increase), while the Black population grew by 29,000 to an estimated total of 359,000 (an 8% increase).
While the state increased its racial diversity overall, not every town did so. Fifteen towns saw a decrease in their share of the non-white population, the largest being Preston, where the estimated share dropped from 15.5% to 8.1%.
The town of Scotland had the largest increase, an 18.6 percentage point difference, going from a share of 3.8% non-white population to 22.3%.
Hartford, Bridgeport and New Haven remained the towns with the largest shares of non-white population and still increased their shares to 85.3%, 81.7% and 71.3% in 2021, respectively.
Fewer cost-burdened households
Housing is typically the biggest expense for most people. There’s a lot of debate about how much of one's income should go towards it, but a widely accepted threshold is about 30%, which has its origins in federal legislation regarding affordable housing for renters. If one is above the threshold, they’re considered cost-burdened. This rule is not without its caveats. Lifestyle, spending habits, number of dependents and income all play a role in whether one is really "cost-burdened."
Data from the Census Bureau show that in 2011, 40% of renters and homeowners in Connecticut, more than 545,000 households, were cost-burdened.
Ten years later, in 2021, the state’s share dropped to 34%, fewer than 480,000 households. Overall, there was a 12% decrease in the number of cost-burdened households.
The share of cost-burdened households increased in 17 towns, but most of them only by 1 to 3 percentage points. The highest increase was in Mansfield, an increase of 8 percentage points, from 37.3% to 45.8%. Ashford experienced the largest decrease in share, going from 39.3% to 19.8%, followed by Goshen and Durham at 18 and 17 percentage points respectively.
Despite decreases in their share of cost-burdened households from 2011 to 2021, Hartford, New Haven and Bridgeport still experienced the highest shares in both years, with about half of the households in each town being cost-burdened.
Migration in and out of CT
By looking at year-to-year address changes reported on individual income tax returns, the IRS has compiled data on people’s migration patterns across the country.
Data show that the state that sent the most number of people to Connecticut (inflows) from 2011 to 2020 is New York, at over 183,000 people, followed by Massachusetts (60,000+) and Florida (51,000+). New York made up 32% of all inflows over the time period.
The state receiving the most people from Connecticut (outflows) is Florida, at over 122,000 people, followed by New York (114,000+) and Massachusetts (71,000+). Florida made up 16% of all outflows over the time period.
The changes differ over time. In most of the first half of the decade, from 2011 to 2015, the outflows were biggest to New York. For the rest of the decade up to 2020, Florida was the top destination.
Wyoming, South Dakota, and North Dakota were the states with the smallest groups of people leaving to and coming from Connecticut.
High school graduation rates are improving
Since the 2010-11 school year up to the 2020-21 cohort, the statewide four-year graduation rate increased 6.9 percentage points, from 82.7% to 89.6%, according to state data.
The median graduation rate in 2010 was 89.6% compared to 93.8% in 2020.
The school districts with the consistently lowest graduation rates were two school districts operated by state agencies and one charter school.
Unified School District #1, which serves incarcerated individuals and is headed by the Department of Correction, had its graduation rate increase from 1.4% to 3.8% but had suppressed data in the school years starting in 2012, 2013 and 2016 to ensure confidentiality.
Unified School District #2, which serves children residing in Department of Children and Families (DCF) facilities, dropped from a 30% graduation rate to 28.6% in the 2016-17 school year. Graduation rates for the rest of the school years were not available because DCF suppressed the data for confidentiality.
Stamford Academy District, a charter school, had its graduation rates range from 36.4% in the 2010-11 school year up to 50% in the 2019-20 school year. Data for the 2020 school year was suppressed for confidentiality.
The public school districts with the lowest graduation rates throughout the decade were in Hartford, New Britain and Bridgeport, while the highest were in Weston, Westport and New Canaan.
The biggest improvements were by the charter Amistad Academy District, which saw a 34.8 percentage point increase, and New Britain School District, which went from 51.3% in the 2010-11 school year to 78.7% in the 2020-21 school year, a 27.4 percentage point increase.
Connecticut's share of college-educated residents increased but was outpaced by other states
Compared to the rest of the country, Connecticut ranks high in its share of adults over 25 who have a bachelor's degree or higher. But over time, Connecticut has dropped in ranking, despite increasing its share of college educated residents, according to Census data.
In 2012, the state ranked 4th in the country with 36.2% of adults holding a bachelor's degree or higher. Nine years later, in 2021, Connecticut's ranking dropped to 6th place despite an increase in the percentage of adults with a bachelor's degree to 40.6%.
When looking specifically at the share of adults over 25 with a bachelor's degree, Connecticut ranked 7th in 2012 with 20.3%. In 2021, the state's ranking dropped to 11th with an increased share of 22.3%, four percentage points away from the high of 26.7% belonging to Colorado.
Connecticut ranked 2nd in 2012 for the percentage of residents with a master's degree, with 11.7%, but in 2021, the state dropped to 3rd place, while still increasing its percentage to 13.3%, just behind Maryland, which had a share of 13.6% and Massachusetts at 14.2%.
Connecticut's ranking for those with a doctorate or professional degree remained unchanged at 3rd place, with a percentage of 4.5% in 2012 and 4.9% in 2021. Maryland (5.8%) and Massachusetts (6.1%) remained in the top two spots.
Insurance workforce drops, social assistance workforce catches up
The top nine job industries in 2009 have remained in the top nine up to 2019, according to Census data.
The industry with the most workers is what described as the "food service and drinking place" industry, increasing from about 100,000 jobs to 125,000, a 25% increase. In terms of its share of the total state workforce, this industry increased from 6.8% to 8.1%.
Of the top nine industries, only the hospital and insurance industries saw declines, at 3% and 11% respectively. The insurance industry lost over 7,000 jobs.
Eric George, President of the Insurance Association of Connecticut, said that it may be due to trends across all industry lines.
“I really can’t point to anything specific. With the way things changed, perhaps some folks are thinking about employment differently. ... The trend has been that many folks have opted for different types of employment since the pandemic began,” said George. “I have found in the insurance industry a lot of flexibility that insurers have afforded their employees. Hybrid work schedules, coming in a few days a week, and for folks who like to work from home, I’ve seen a lot of accommodations made. Insurers are trying to take steps to make it more attractive to attract talent.”
While hospital employment dropped 3%, ambulatory health care and outpatient services employment increased by 24%, adding almost 20,000 jobs, and jobs regarding nursing and residential care facilities increased by 4%.
The biggest percent increase was in the social assistance industry at 36%, going from just over 43,000 jobs to almost 60,000. It has also remained the smallest employed industry out of the group, but with its increase, it’s close to catching up to the insurance industry.
Fortune 500 companies on the rise
With Fortune 500 companies being some of the largest businesses in the country, their headquarters can have local economic benefits.
Although a company's corporate headquarters doesn’t necessarily mean a lot of jobs, the presence of one can serve as a symbol of the state's prestige and can encourage other businesses and workers to come to the area.
The number of Fortune 500 companies headquartered in Connecticut increased from 14 in 2012 to 15 in 2022, with changes in the companies representing the state. The state's high number of headquarters relative to its population allows Connecticut to claim a ranking among the states with the highest number of headquarters per capita.
“Connecticut is a highly educated state. We have various skilled talent here. We have a strong competitive advantage compared to some of our other peers in the northeast. If you're looking at places like Boston, or New York, then you can come to Connecticut and get the same talent at a much lower cost, and your rents will be lower. And so you kind of get all of those assets that you would have in some of those larger jurisdictions,” said Rachel Gretencord, Vice President of Research at AdvanceCT, a nonprofit economic development organization in Connecticut.
Gretencord also mentioned that quality of life for workers is a big factor that businesses are taking into account, along with the fiscal health of a state and personalized attention that a company would receive in a state as small as Connecticut.
Seven companies were part of the 500 list in both 2012 and 2022, with health insurance provider Cigna having the largest rank improvement, going from a rank of 130 to 12.
Other companies that remained in both lists include Hartford Financial Services Group (131 to 160), Stanley Black & Decker (252 to 212), EMCOR Group (428 to 357), W.R. Berkley (471 to 371), Xerox Holdings (127 to 471) and Frontier Communications (464 to 499).
Two companies that dropped out of the Fortune 500 between 2012 and 2022 but still remain headquartered in Connecticut include Terex Corporation and Pitney Bowes Inc.
Meanwhile, General Electric moved its headquarters to Boston, while United Technologies Corp. followed suit after a merger with Raytheon.
Three other companies aren’t included in the Fortune 500 list due to mergers and acquisitions but still maintain headquarters in Connecticut. Those include Aetna Inc. (acquired by CVS), Praxair Inc. (acquired by Linde), and Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. (acquired by Marriott).
CEO of AdvanceCT, Peter Denious, said, “We'd much rather compete for our highly educated workforce, our schools, some of the best in the country ... So it's obviously a lot about talent. It's a lot about convenience of place, and we're obviously between New York and Boston in a kind of a strategically relevant corridor.”
More Republicans, but ...
In both 2012 and 2022, the biggest active voting group has been unaffiliated voters, making up about 41% of total active voters in each year. Data from the Secretary of State's office show that Democrats made up 36% and Republicans 20% of the electorate in both years. The three groups did see small changes, but they were all less than a percentage point.
Despite largely unchanged shares, each group did see growth. The Republican party grew the most relative to its size, going from about 430,000 voters to 463,000, a 7.6% increase.
Democratic and unaffiliated voters both grew by 5.88%, with the former going from 768,000 to 813,000 and the latter increasing from 872,000 to 924,000 voters.
Towns experienced bigger changes.
In 2022, registered Democratic voters were the largest active voting group in 28 towns, up from 18 in 2012. Unaffiliated voters were the largest group in 136 towns in 2022, down from 144 in 2012. Republicans were the largest group in five towns in 2022, down from seven in 2012.
In summary, while Republicans grew the fastest and were the only ones to see their share of the registered voter total increase, their changes were not significant enough to gain ground.
Since Republicans are the smallest voting group, even if their change is larger (7.6%), their total increase is still smaller than the other, larger groups that increased at lower rates.
The towns with the largest Democratic shares in 2022 were New Haven and Hartford, at 64.5% and 60.8%, respectively, which dropped from 2012. Meanwhile, their shares of unaffiliated voters increased by 3 and 12 percentage points respectively.
The Republicans' biggest share in a town was 50% in 2012 for New Canaan, which dropped to 36.5% in 2022. In 2022, the Republicans' biggest share in a town was 40% in Hartland.
Despite overall decrease in emissions, state not on track to meet emissions goal
Connecticut’s Global Warming Solutions Act in 2008 required the state to reduce statewide emissions by certain levels by certain years.
By 2020, the state had to reduce emissions to a level 10% below 1990 levels. After an amendment made in recent years, emissions in 2030 have to be down 45% from 2001 levels. By 2050, the state has to reduce them 80% below 2001 levels.
The state is not on track to meet those goals, according to a state report and data from the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.
So far, it’s close to meeting its first goal of 10% below 1990 levels in 2020. In 2018, the most recent year for which state data is available, emissions are down 7.25%, with two years left to get it down to its target of 10%.
The next two target emissions levels are compared to 2001, when levels were at 51.4 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents (MMTCO2e). For it to meet its targets, levels have to go down 45% to 28.27 MMTCO2e by 2030 and 80% down to 10.28 MMTCO2e by 2050.
As of 2018, levels are at 42.2 MMTCO2e, a 17% decrease from 2001 and an average rate of change of .5 MMTCO2e each year.
In the past decade, overall emissions have dropped, but certain sectors are delaying the state’s goal.
Although transportation sector emissions, the largest emitting sector making up 37% of emissions in 2018, have decreased in the past 10 years, levels were higher in 2018 than in 1990.
Meanwhile, commercial and industrial sectors increased emissions in the past decade of data.
Accidental death rates up, heart disease and cancer rates down
In Connecticut, the leading rankable causes of death from 2010 through 2020, in order by mortality rate in 2020, are heart disease, cancer, COVID-19, accidents, strokes and chronic lower respiratory diseases, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
COVID-19 emerged in Connecticut in 2020 and ranked third that year, at 112.3 deaths per 100,000 residents.
Over time, the leading causes of death in the state have all decreased their rates, except for accidents, which almost doubled, from 33.6 deaths per 100,00 residents in 2010 to 63.5 in 2020.
Accidents include transportation accidents, falls, drownings, exposures to smoke and accidental drug overdoses, which have increased sharply in recent years.
The state’s mortality rates are lower than the national rates, except for accidents and COVID-19.
From 2010 to 2013, accident mortality rates were higher at the national rate than in Connecticut, but in 2014, Connecticut's rate surpassed that of the national rate, exceeding the national rate by 6.9 deaths per 100,000.