The following appeared in the Stamford Advocate on June 17, 2016 and features comments from OperationsInc CEO David Lewis. To view the original article, please click here.
by Alex Soule
For a large cross-section of the U.S. working public, paychecks gained negligibly in May, up just 1 percent from a year earlier. In Connecticut, meanwhile, a comparatively minuscule sample of workers showed an increase of 9 percent on average.
A Connecticut Department of Labor survey on weekly earnings spiked to its biggest increase in 10 years, with officials quick to caution the data was likely the result of anomalies introduced through random sampling of employers. Still, with the Labor Department tracking increases in both hourly wages and hours worked, it was a welcome piece of news in an otherwise dour monthly report that showed Connecticut saw its first month-over-month decline in jobs this year, at an estimated 1,400 jobs lost.
The Labor Department calculated weekly earnings in May of $1,042 in Connecticut, up 9 percent from a year earlier, with earnings nationally up only 1.1 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. There was an accompanying increase in inflation that wiped out most of those gains as far as actual spending power for households.
If the May totals in Connecticut were artificially high, it nevertheless marked the second straight month on paper that Connecticut wages topped $1,000 weekly, with the department estimating weekly earnings at $1,019 in April, a 6 percent gain from the year before that also represented among the biggest gains of the past decade.
Connecticut’s economy continues to perplex. This week, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis tracked a 0.6 percent increase in gross domestic product for 2015, half the level of the year before. Yet Connecticut’s GDP increased 1.7 percent in the fourth quarter, third best in the Northeast, as pointed out by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy Wednesday in remarks to the Eastern Connecticut Chamber of Commerce broadcast on CT-N.
“There are lots of good things going on — there are lots of tough things going on,” Malloy said. “I think perception is the problem more than reality, but I think we need to do ‘reality change,’ as well. I think we need to do both. … I think one of the great difficulties about Connecticut over a period of time is that we did not make the long-term investments to allow our economy to grow, and our competition caught up with us.”
Those difficulties ultimately hit home to workers and those seeking employment.
“I would view the market right now as status quo,” said David Lewis, a Stamford resident who is CEO of OperationsInc and FairfieldCountyJobs.com in Norwalk. “We should be seeing a better game plan from the (state) on how to regain some momentum. There are things they can and should be doing, even with limited funds, to help spark some growth.”
“The South End of Stamford is teeming with new residents and yet most work in New York,” Lewis added. “We need to get them working in Connecticut, and the only way to do that is via a concerted and strategic effort to attract the kind of firms that value their talents.”