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Connecticut Residents More Optimistic About State’s Economy and Business Prospects, But Concerns About Jobs, Health Insurance Persist

Eighty percent of state residents believe that overall business conditions in Connecticut will get better or stay the same during the next six months, and 77 percent say conditions are the same or better now than six months ago, according to the latest InformCT Consumer Confidence Survey.

That compares favorably with a year ago, when the numbers were 72 percent and 65 percent, respectively. And for the second consecutive quarter, 30 percent or more believe that business conditions will be better six months from now, the first time that has occurred in four years of polling.

Connecticut residents are also anticipating that their personal financial circumstances will improve during the next six months, as nearly half (47%) express that view, the highest percentage in the past four years. The percentage who say that from a personal financial standpoint they are better off than six months ago is now identical to the percentage who say they’re worse off – both at 31 percent.

InformCT is a public-private partnership that provides independent, non-partisan research, analysis, and public outreach to help create fact-based dialogue and action in Connecticut. The survey, conducted quarterly since 2015, is administered by researchers from the Connecticut Economic Resource Center, Inc. The latest survey results are for the fourth quarter of 2018.

The percentage of state residents who feel the Connecticut economy is improving has increased from 20 percent to 28 percent during the past year, as the percentage that disagree with that perspective has dropped from 50 percent to 41 percent.

However, even as optimism about the state’s economy, business conditions and personal finances improved somewhat, concerns about jobs, health insurance and long-term financial security remain.

Jobs Remain A Concern, Statewide and at Home

The percentage that believe jobs are either very hard to get or that there are some jobs but not enough, compared with six months ago, has grown for three consecutive quarters and now stands at 80 percent. One-quarter of those surveyed say jobs are very hard to get in Connecticut. While the percentage that believe the employment situation six months from now will improve has edged forward from 19 percent a year ago to 23 percent in the latest survey, 77 percent continue to expect the employment situation to stay the same or get worse.

In addition, 35 percent express concern that “my job or that of my spouse/partner is in jeopardy” – the highest percentage in more than a year, and the first time in more than a year that more people agree with that statement than disagree. During the past two quarters, the higher percentage expressing concern versus those that are not has reversed, from 28%-39% to 35%-33%.

Those with higher levels of education tend to be more optimistic about the availability of jobs. For example, nearly twice as many respondents with less than a high school education (29%) expect the employment situation to worsen in the next six months, compared with those with a post graduate education (15%). And 38 percent of respondents with less than a high school diploma say jobs are very hard to get, versus only 26 percent of those with a college degree and 17 percent with post-grad education.

Regarding jobs, Connecticut’s most optimistic county is Tolland County, with 40 percent expecting that the employment situation will be better six months from now. The most pessimistic are New London County and Windham County, where 27 percent and 20 percent, respectively, say employment will be worse.

Residents Uncertain About Health Insurance Affordability, Retirement Security

About six in ten state residents (59%) are “concerned about being able to afford health insurance, while fewer than two in ten (18%) are not. The percentage of residents who are not concerned is the smallest in more than two years.

More than half of Connecticut residents (52%) don’t believe they “will have enough money to retire comfortably,” compared with less than one-quarter (21%) who do. A year ago, the percentages were 45%-27%.

Perspective on Connecticut, Consumer Spending Varies

The survey also found that the percentage who “strongly agree” that “Connecticut is a good place to live and raise a family” is at the lowest level in four years, at 13 percent. Another 37 percent “somewhat agree.” The percentage who either strongly or somewhat disagree with that statement, 29 percent, is virtually unchanged from a year ago (27%) and identical to four years ago.

Regarding planned spending in the next six months:

  • 35% say it is likely that they will make a major consumer expenditure versus 58% who say that is unlikely
  • 24% indicate it is likely that they will purchase a car, the lowest percentage since the 2nd quarter of 2017, while two-thirds (66%) say it is unlikely
  • 16% say it is very or somewhat likely that they will refinance their home or purchase a new home, identical to the percentage a year ago, although “very likely” has edged forward from 4% to 6%
  • 65% expect to take a vacation outside Connecticut, up from 58% in the 3rd quarter of 2018, but not quite as high as a year ago (69%)

The online survey of 505 state residents, conducted in late November 2018, has a margin of error of 4 percent.