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UConn Report Warns of “Long, Arduous, and Uneven” Economic Recovery for Connecticut

  • Report from the Connecticut Center for Economic Analysis, a University of Connecticut think tank, warns that it may take a full decade for the state to recover from the economic damage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Forecast says state had already been in a difficult spot before the pandemic due to sluggish job gains and a failure to invest in IT development
  • Report calls for steps such as infrastructure improvements, a more aggressive push for federal funding, and marijuana legalization among other strategies

Connecticut may face a decade of effort to recover from the economic disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to report published Friday. The harshly worded long-term assessment issued by the Connecticut Center for Economic Analysis, which is based at the University of Connecticut, says the state has failed to sufficiently adapt to the data-driven modern economy and recommends a number of strategies to help speed up recovery.

A total of 277,000 workers in Connecticut lost their jobs at the outset of the pandemic. The state had not yet recovered the nearly 117,000 jobs lost in the Great Recession when the pandemic hit, and had been operating below its previous peak economic output. The report says state’s labor market will also be disrupted by deaths and disabilities caused by COVID-19.

However, the report puts much of the onus for the expected “long, arduous, and uneven” recovery on pre-existing factors. It says Connecticut failed to build its information technology capabilities after the Great Recession, instead growing “low-skill, low-wage” jobs in areas such as retail, tourism, logistics, hospitality, and elder care – all sectors that have proved particularly vulnerable during the pandemic.

The assessment suggests that increasing taxes or cutting public sector programs and employees won’t be sufficient to reverse the state’s economic trajectory, calling instead for “aggressive, smart state initiatives” to remain competitive. These include:

  • Working to attract data center investment
  • Strengthening Connecticut’s IT infrastructure
  • Transportation infrastructure improvements, including the redevelopment of the Sikorsky Memorial Airport, upgrades to the state’s three deep water ports, and the construction of an inland multimodal port at Naugatuck
  • Green initiatives such as offshore wind and the installation of residential solar and battery storage systems
  • Rapid development of intellectual property
  • University-supported initiatives in aerospace engineering, biomedicine, and IT
  • Marijuana legalization
  • A more aggressive drive for federal funding

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