The jobs still haven’t returned to Connecticut. That was one of the message delivered to an economic forecast breakfast of the Central Connecticut Chamber of Commerce last Thursday.
Members of the business community and central Connecticut region learned about economic trends at the local, state, and national level.
Economist Patrick Flaherty, the assistant director of research and information with the Connecticut Department of Labor and a member of the state’s Labor Market Information unit, said Connecticut still hasn’t recovered all of the jobs that were lost during the recession of 2008-2009. This is due in part to a lapse in birth rate that coincided with the recession. According to Flaherty, there are more jobs than workers, and more older workers than young, because the people that should be getting ready to graduate and fill those jobs, weren’t born as predicted.
President and Chief Executive Officer of the Connecticut Business and Industry Association, Joe Brennan, discussed jobs, workforce growth, and how the recent election would impact the state workforce and economy. Brennan shared similar sentiments to Flaherty, saying that while the manufacturing industry has the job openings to drive our state economy back up in line with the national economy, many companies are bringing in automated workers — robotics — because there is a shortage of workers.
Brennan said he felt that Gov. Ned Lamont will be the kind of governor that is “engaged in the process,” and is a “good listener.” But, he thinks the “telling moment” will come when Lamont releases his first budget, set to come out in February.
State Representative Dr. William Petit (R-22), asked the speakers what they thought regarding the possible hike to minimum wage.
“I think one of the issues is just the size of the increase because in all the years I’ve been at CBIA we’ve had a lot of minimum wage increases but they’d usually be a quarter or fifty cents over a couple year period,” said Brennan. “Now we’re talking about going up a dollar a year for five years, $4.80 I guess over a five year period, so I think it’s that rapid increase and such a steep increase going from our current $10.10 an hour up to $15 an hour.”
He also touched on the idea of a training wage, where a high school student working part time over the summer would make slightly less than $15 an hour, as they aren’t necessarily using that money to pay bills and support a family. Brennan suggested the training wage be “about a dollar or so less” than minimum wage.
Bristol Councilman Peter Kelley asked what could be done regarding the drop in population that is affecting the job market. Flaherty said that Connecticut “needs to be a pro immigration state,” as the more people that move into the state can help drive up the economy through taxes and by filling jobs.
The Central Connecticut Chamber of Commerce will host a legislative breakfast at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel on Wednesday, Feb. 20, from 8 to 10 a.m. The breakfast will allow citizens a chance to ask questions of local legislators, and hear about what is being done at the capitol.
For more information, please visit the Chamber website, www.centralctchambers.org.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Taylor Murchison-Gallagher, email her at TMurchison@BristolObserver.com.