Fairfield County trailed most of Connecticut for economic growth between 2012 and 2015, according to a federal survey that represents the first time the U.S. Department of Commerce has estimated gross domestic product for every county in the country.
Fairfield County’s economy grew just 0.2 percent in 2015, including the effects of inflation, to approach $86.1 billion in total products and services sold, including the value of government services. By comparison, after two years of GDP declines, Hartford County’s economic output spiked 4.6 percent in 2015 to lead Connecticut for growth while ranking 13th in the Northeast.
The Bureau of Economic Analysis study represents a prototype that BEA will continue to refine going forward in an effort to make the estimates as accurate as possible. In a statement accompanying the report, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said the data “addresses one of the last remaining gaps in economic knowledge” and that it can be used to inform decision making at the local level.
In Fairfield County in 2015, product sales dropped nearly 5 percent from the year before, with the far-larger services industry helping take up the slack to nudge GDP into positive territory.
The question becomes how much momentum southwestern Connecticut has generated since, with coastal Fairfield County’s job numbers still below their levels of 2015 according to estimates through October by the state Department of Labor, with DOL to publish on Thursday updated figures for November.
The Danbury region has registered a slight jobs gain over the intervening three years, with New Haven-area employment up 2 percent.
Those estimates include government jobs that have been pared under Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who while giving a self-described “sermon of the future” Wednesday at a gathering of the Middlesex Chamber of Commerce, noted that private-sector jobs statewide are at their highest level ever, in remarks webcast on CT-N. The one-time Stamford mayor plans to live in Essex when he steps aside next month for Gov.-elect Ned Lamont.
Malloy said when he took office, Connecticut was on the cusp of losing three major manufacturers in Sikorsky Aircraft in Stratford, General Dynamics in Groton, and Pratt & Whitney in East Hartford and Middletown. And he said there are 22 state-backed incubators in Connecticut today, versus a small handful eight years ago.
“When (I) … came into office, we had 11 Fortune 500 companies — 11. Yes, some left, but as I stand before you, Connecticut has 17 Fortune 500 companies,” Malloy said. “I am tired of people saying that we are losing to other states like New York or New Jersey or Massachusetts, when we refuse to invest in our transportation system and those states are winning in some competitions because of their transportation system and the amount of money they have invested.”