Paying Attention To Poverty In Connecticut

Jan 28, 2013

A report released Friday says more than 720,000 people are living at or near the poverty level in Connecticut.

The report put together by the Connecticut Association for Community Action, the Connecticut Center for Economic Analysis and BWB Solutions looks at 20 years of data, and the research is sobering - as of 2010, 21 percent of all Connecticut residents live at or near poverty - almost every town in Connecticut saw an increase of very poor residents since 1990. Connecticut employment has been stagnant for 20 years, and according to the report, Connecticut has the worst job creation record in the nation.

According Dr. Fred Carstensen of the Connecticut Center for Economic Analysis and one of the researchers of the report, there are a few reasons why.

"Connecticut really did not pay attention to economic development. We also had done a poor job of linking our educational pipeline to employer needs," said Carstensen. "Part of it was that we simply weren't paying attention to the problems."

The report called Meeting the Challenge: The Dynamics of Poverty in Connecticut offers some basic policy changes researchers believe will help reverse the poverty trend in Connecticut.

"Connecticut in general, historically, has done a very poor job of just paying attention to its own competitive position," said Carstensen. "We were the only state in the nation for a period of time that had no liaison with the U.S. Census office. We aren't doing the kind of analysis on a regular basis that is so critical for informing policy discussions. So we're a little flying blind in Connecticut."

The report did praise the Malloy administration for following through on commitments to compete and bring new economic and business development projects, like Maine’s Jackson Laboratory to the state.