Employment in Connecticut: The long-term trend in 10 business sectors

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Three subsectors of industry in Connecticut — manufacturing, educational and business services — each saw declines in jobs in May, according to recently released figures from the Department of Labor. Six others gained jobs in the month, while one — financial activities — remained the same.

We decided to seek out a longer perspective. We looked at data going back to 1990 to see how different industry workforces have grown or shrunk.

As a whole, the Department of Labor counted almost 50,000 more jobs in May of 2015 than the 1,640,000 jobs in January of 1990. Though jobs in some industries have declined during the past 15 years, other industries have gained enough to offset the loss.

Let’s take a look at each sector as categorized by the state:

The percent of construction workers in the workforce has wavered between 3 and 4 percent since 1999. But raw numbers show a more pronounced rise and fall in construction worker numbers as economic conditions change. At the moment, the level of workers engaged in the construction of buildings or engineering projects has grown steadily since a low in 2010.

Manufacturing has seen the most significant job loss over the years. In 1990, those jobs made up almost 19 percent of the workforce. Today, it’s down to 9 percent. In terms of raw numbers, almost 150,000 jobs were eliminated in 15 years.

Transportation and public utilities have seen slow but steady growth since 2010, but as a percent of the total workforce, have pretty much stayed in the 18 percent range since the ’90s.

The information sector is the smallest of all subsectors the Department of Labor categorizes. In Connecticut, the number of workers and percent of workforce as a whole has been shrinking since 2000.

The financial sector is made up of finance, real estate and insurance. It’s been slowly declining since 2008.

Meanwhile, the professional and business supersector has added nearly 45,000 jobs since 1990. Types of jobs in this sector include scientific, technical, management, administrative and legal.

Educational and health services saw a loss of 100 jobs between April and May of this year. But since 1990, about 140,000 jobs have been added. It’s the most significant growth industry in the state. As a whole, this sector makes up almost 20 percent of all jobs in Connecticut today — up from 12 percent in 1990.

The arts, entertainment and recreation sector has seen steady job growth.

According to the Department of Labor, Other Services include services not specifically provided for elsewhere in the North American Industry Classification System. Establishments in this sector are primarily engaged in activities, such as equipment and machinery repairing, promoting or administering religious activities, grantmaking, advocacy, and providing drycleaning and laundry services, personal care services, death care services, pet care services, photofinishing services, temporary parking services, and dating services.


Government jobs grew from 1990 until about 2008, then slowly declined until 2014. Since then, there’s been very slight growth.

Explore the Department of Labor’s data or follow our methodology.

What do you think?

  • Rob

    It seems to me that it is a problem that there has been only a 3% increase in the total number of jobs since 1990, yet the population of the state has increased 9% in that time….

  • Rick Stathers

    Yup Rob, that is a problem. And when you see where the big decliners are (manufacturing and construction) you see why we are losing the middle class in CT. The common denominator for these two sectors is the unions that have forced many jobs out of CT to right-to-work states and the high cost for unemployment and workers compensation insurance. High cost of electricity is also a major factor in the huge loss in manufacturing over that period.

    • Joseph Brzezinski

      It would be instructive to see how declines in jobs get split out in various categories. For instance, is it loss of business to right to work state businesses or offshore outsourcing of work or businesses contracting out work that they used to do inhouse such as IT, accounting, etc. CT is one of the largest users or H1B labor in the country which can be some influence on the statistics.

      • Rick Stathers

        Joe, it would be interesting if we had those statistics available. But whether its moving jobs out of Connecticut because of the union cost, offshore outsourcing or I think a very minor influence of H-1B, the overall results can’t be argued, they are terrible.

        I can only speak from my observations in the various industries I have experience in. I’m in the manufacturing business for the last 15 years. I know that the big manufacturers, like Pratt, Hamilton, Sikorsky, etc. have moved many jobs to right-to-work states like Florida and the Carolinas. They have also off-shored a tremendous amount of jobs to places like Poland, Czec Republic, Mexico because of the cost or production savings. Some of that is coming back but I don’t think it will come to CT. The financial sector, especially the big insurance companies have cut back employment in CT because it is cheaper to to business elsewhere. As Rob says, there has to be some reason our employment levels have dropped in this state. Based upon my experience, I think its all of the things I mentioned in my earlier post. The cost is just too high here, and our public policies have made it worse, along with the strong union influence this state has had over the last 50 years.

        • Joseph Brzezinski

          We both agree that CT costs are too high, though with current levels of union participation being extremely low in the private sector, except for several industry groups like manufacturing, the job losses are arleady history, and Apple as has said “Those jobs are never coming back!” . Workers need to move where those jobs have already gone and opportunities are expanding.
          Public sector is the primary union stranglehold on cost both for public sector jobs and public policies requiring union membership in various private sector industries.
          Unions have been almost non-existent in insurance, many financial sectors, consulting, and other businesses.
          I don’t have data either but high cost is much more likely to be associated with outsourcing, using outsourcing savings to balloon up executive compensation and bonuses, top heavy compensation, and high taxation levels than unions.
          Right to work could be part of the solution but modified a bit so unions negotiate for just their voluntary dues paying members.

  • friedrich5

    From my experience, I am having a problem with the numbers as they do not appear to reflect reality. Did the definitions change during the period?

  • P Berman

    Good work. Please update and provide begin/end points in tables. Many thanks