Greater Hartford Economy Growing Stronger Than Metro Areas' Average
By MARA LEE
September 13, 2011
Metro Hartford has the fastest growing economy of any region in Connecticut, thanks to growth in insurance and other financial services, the U.S. Department of Commerce reported Tuesday.
The total value of goods and services produced in Greater Hartford grew 3.8 percent from 2009 to 2010 to $88 billion, significantly faster growth than the average for metro areas throughout the country, which grew at 2.5 percent. The region comprises Hartford, Middlesex and Tolland counties.
The insurance/financial services sector contributed 2.4 percentage points of the growth, one of the strongest shares for that sector in the country.
"It's definitely headed in the right direction," said Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Catherine Smith. "I'm not surprised in Hartford it includes financial services, including insurance." She said she's heard at visits with executives at United HealthCare, Travelers and Prudential that their Connecticut operations are growing, and CIGNA promises to add hundreds of jobs in the state, qualifying for the DECD's First Five incentives.
But Metro Hartford's equivalent of gross domestic product, or GDP, isn't growing nearly as fast as its bigger neighbors. Boston's economy grew by 4.8 percent, and the New York metro area grew by 4.7 percent.
Unfortunately, the strength of the local economy has not translated into better-than-average job growth. Greater Hartford lost 2,300 jobs from December 2009 to December 2010, the period covered by this report. But things have improved since then, with a gain of 3,400 jobs from the beginning of 2011 through July.
Smith said manufacturing has been doing more hiring than other sectors, but that insurers and big financial services companies have started to add more salespeople, and as they land more business, the companies will have to add back-office workers to maintain service levels.
"The companies have been wringing out productivity in the last year or two," Smith said, and business confidence is weakened by the elevated volatility in the stock market. "There's a psychology we're up against," she said, and with bad economic news, like national job creation at zero in August, "it makes it a little harder to get past that."
Fairfield County's economy grew by 3.4 percent to $84.9 billion. New Haven County's economy grew by 2.3 percent and southeastern Connecticut's economy grew by 0.5 percent to $14.4 billion.
Eighty-three percent of metropolitan areas had a growing economy from 2009 to 2010.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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