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State Residents See Improving Economy: Survey Finds Out-of-State Moves Less Likely, Plans to Spend on Major Consumer Items, Millennials See Better Business Conditions; Jobs Remain in Short Supply

Seven in 10 Connecticut residents say overall business conditions in the state are either better or the same as six months ago, according to the quarterly Inform CT Consumer Confidence Survey, and 75 percent expect conditions to either remain the same or improve in the next six months.  The latest survey, covering the third quarter of 2016, also found residents are more willing to spend on major consumer items – a sign of a strengthening economy – and less concern about immediate job security.

The survey also found that millennials, ages 22-25, are the demographic most upbeat about the state’s economic progress, with 41 percent saying overall business conditions were better than six months ago.  Those ages 18-21 and 26-35 had the next most positive views.

In a reversal from the previous quarter, 42 percent of state residents surveyed said they were unlikely to move out of state in the next 5 years, compared with 34 percent who described such a move as likely.  In the previous survey, conducted in the second quarter of this year, the numbers were reversed with 42 percent saying that it was likely they’d be moving out of state within five years, compared with only 32 percent who said such a move was unlikely.  The percentage who indicated they were “not sure” was virtually unchanged, within a percentage point of 25 percent.

The quarterly survey is released by InformCT, a public-private partnership that provides independent, non-partisan research, analysis, and public outreach to help create fact-based dialogue and action in Connecticut. Administered by researchers from the Connecticut Economic Resource Center, Inc. (CERC) and Smith & Company, the analysis is based on the responses of residents across Connecticut and addresses key economic issues, providing a glimpse of the public’s views.

Among other consumer survey findings:

  • Nearly three-quarters of those surveyed (73%) said that in the next 6 months they were likely to take a vacation outside the state, the highest proportion since the survey began nearly two years ago, and the fourth consecutive quarterly increase.
  • The proportion of respondents likely to make a major consumer expenditure for furniture or another product also was the highest in seven quarters, at 43 percent, up from 26 percent a year ago.
  • The percentage of respondents who indicated they were likely to buy or refinance their home (16%) or purchase a new car (26%) were both at levels higher than in the 3rd quarter of 2015.
  • Residents of Windham and Fairfield counties were more likely to view overall business conditions as being better now than six months ago, the survey found.  Twenty-nine percent of Windham residents held that view as did 28 percent of Fairfield residents.  Residents of the state’s other six counties, Middlesex (23%), New London (20%), New Haven (20%), Litchfield (16%), Tolland (16%) and Hartford (16%) had fewer residents expressing that opinion.

Continuing Concerns

Tempering upbeat views and increasing likelihood of spending on consumer items and vacations is the continuing widely-held opinion that there are “some jobs in Connecticut, but not enough.”  Those expressing that view increased to 63 percent in the third quarter, the highest percentage since the survey began.  An additional 24 percent view jobs as “very hard to get.”  Thus, nearly nine in ten view the number of available jobs as insufficient in the state.  The survey also found:

  • Less concern about job security: Only one-third (35%) expressed concern that their job or the job of their spouse/partner is in jeopardy, down from 39 percent in the previous quarter and 42 percent in the first quarter this year.
  • Continuing strong concern about health insurance costs: Nearly two-thirds of state residents (64%) say they are concerned about being able to afford health insurance.
  • Continuing concern about retirement savings: Overall, 50 percent of those surveyed disagreed with the statement “I will have enough money to retire comfortably,” compared with 23 percent who agreed.  Those currently of working age are most concerned about retirement savings.
  • Connecticut is a good place to raise a family: Overall, fifty percent of those surveyed expressed that view, compared with 28 percent who disagreed, a ratio that has been relatively consistent in the quarterly surveys.  The two age groups that agree most are now, or will likely soon be, starting families – 62 percent of those ages 22-25 and 60 percent of those ages 26-35.
  • Personal financial situation improving: 30 percent of survey respondents said their personal financial situation was better today than six months ago, compared with 28 percent who said they were worse off.

The InformCT Consumer Confidence findings are a valuable and cost-effective strategic planning tool for any company or organization that wishes to take the temperature of the Connecticut consumer, such as financial services institutions, health care providers, insurers, developers, utilities, trade associations, and advertisers. Those who wish to subscribe to regular information can add proprietary questions for their own purposes.

More information about subscribing can be found at InformCT.org.