Not All News is Bad News

by Susan Merrow

Although Connecticut often gets a bad rap in news and punditry for its budget deficits, slow recovery from the recession, general economic malaise, and talent and wealth flight to other states, it’s important to occasionally challenge some of the conventional wisdom about our perceived economic backwardness.  

Two recent studies highlight how Connecticut, in general, and Hartford, in particular, stack up when compared to places we often look to as examples of economic upward mobility.  First, a study published in Bloomberg News ranks Connecticut fourth out of 50 states in measures of innovation, behind California, Massachusetts, and Washington State. The Most Innovative Economies in America 


The Bloomberg analysis compares R & D, productivity, tech density, number of STEM professionals, science and engineering degree holders, and patents.  Connecticut is right up there with the tech titans.  One might ask if Connecticut is so darn smart, why isn’t our economy booming? To be sure that is a topic for another day.  One cannot say, however, that we don’t have many of the right ingredients here and now for the economy of the future. 

It is interesting to note as well, that list-topper California also leads the nation in taxing the income of its millionaires at a whopping 13.3 percent.  There is a growing movement among Connecticut’s high-income community to advocate for higher taxes on the upper tax brackets.  This issue has emerged recently in news reports of budget battles at the Capitol. 

A second notable study names the Hartford-East Hartford -West Hartford metro area as one of the top 10 best places in the country for first time home buyers. Best Cities for First Time Homebuyers

This study compares 50 metro areas using their unemployment rates, affordability, cultural assets, job markets, market tightness, and safety.  Weighing in again at number four, the Hartford metro area edges out such seemingly hot places to live as the greater St. Louis, Cincinnati, Minneapolis, and Richmond areas. 

Yes, Connecticut has its budget woes.  Apparently we also have the building blocks of a state that should be able to attract and keep bright young people in an environment that takes advantage of robust innovation.  In spite of negative narratives to the contrary, Connecticut has some enviable bona fides on its resume of reasons to live and work here.    

Michele Jacklin contributed editorial assistance to this article.