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State Economic Growth Is Coming, Albeit Slowly, Students In Fairfield Say

Professor Lucjan Orlowski introduces his students before they begin their Connecticut Economic Outlook presentation Thursday.
Professor Lucjan Orlowski introduces his students before they begin their Connecticut Economic Outlook presentation Thursday. Photo Credit: Meredith Guinness

FAIRFIELD, Conn. — Connecticut is beginning to show slow movement out of the recession that has plagued the nation for nearly a decade, but state leaders would be wise to take advantage of its highly educated workforce and high-tech prowess to truly turn the economy around.

That’s the prediction from Sacred Heart University students in Professor Lucjan Orlowski’s business class, who presented their Connecticut Economic Outlook 2016-17 on Thursday afternoon at the university’s Jack Welch College of Business.

The senior business majors spent most of the semester studying all aspects of the state’s economy — from unemployment levels and education to housing starts and changes in the gross domestic product. The group studied their data and ran models before coming to some conclusions they presented to experts, including Fairfield Economic Development Director Mark Barnhart.

The students predicted the state’s GDP will show about 0.88 percent growth in 2016 and about 0.53 percent growth in 2017.

Meghan Covington, of Norwalk, who presented the educational outlook component, said Connecticut has the third highest rate of residents with advanced degrees in the nation. Also, 37 percent of those 25 or older hold a college degree, she said.

The state also enjoys easy access to major cities and boasts a strong presence in the bioscience, defense and aerospace industries, among others, she said.

Senior Kevin Nolan noticed that, while there’s been a decline in commercial banks in the last few years, there has been an increase in total assets among Connecticut banks.

Austin Arcala noted that roughly 90 percent of the state’s labor force is employed, which matches the national average. However, he said, the number of people living in poverty, about 11 percent of the population, is on the rise.

“The margin amongst Connecticut residents is increasing greatly,” he said.

Orlowski told the students their results point to some changes that could be made for a brighter economic future.

“There are mixed signals that the Connecticut economy will grow, but it will grow slowly,” he said, noting lawmakers are debating a challenging budget this week. “Do we have a well considered industrial development policy for the state of Connecticut that would capitalize on our strengths — know how, high-technology companies, excellent universities, colleges and technical schools? We need to capitalize on this more.”

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