6 cen­sus num­bers that are ac­tu­ally pretty good for Con­necti­cut

Hartford Courant (Sunday) - - Opinion -

A year ago, we warned of “5 Con­necti­cut Cen­sus Num­bers That Should Scare Your Socks Off.” You can put your socks back on.

Doom seemed on the hori­zon back then. Cen­sus data that mea­sure state-to-state mi­gra­tion showed more peo­ple were leav­ing Con­necti­cut than were mov­ing in from other states to re­place them, caus­ing a big net loss in in­ter­state mi­gra­tion that was grow­ing by the year. It’s an im­por­tant mea­sure of Con­necti­cut’s de­sir­abil­ity as a place to live, dis­tinct from pop­u­la­tion changes that come from births and deaths, or from peo­ple mov­ing to Con­necti­cut from over­seas.

But the out-mi­gra­tion trends didn’t worsen as feared. They re­versed, in small but no­table ways. Among key groups, Con­necti­cut’s pop­u­la­tion is in­creas­ing, or at least the out­flow has slowed.

In 2016, U.S. Cen­sus data showed that Con­necti­cut was los­ing more peo­ple to other states than it was gain­ing in ev­ery age bracket and at one of the high­est rates in the na­tion.

The most re­cent data for 2017 show that while Con­necti­cut’s net state-to-state mi­gra­tion is still in the red, it’s im­prov­ing — and when taken with other cen­sus data that show over­all pop­u­la­tion gains, it all sug­gests that Con­necti­cut’s de­mo­graphic sit­u­a­tion is sta­bi­liz­ing.

For many peo­ple, Con­necti­cut is look­ing like the place to be.

The num­bers:


In 2017, 14,645 Con­necti­cut res­i­dents in the 30-39 age group moved out, to an­other state. But 15,989 moved in from other states, re­sult­ing in a net gain of 1,344, ac­cord­ing to cen­sus es­ti­mates.

In 2016, there was a net loss of 4,596 from the same age group. Those are the peo­ple who raise chil­dren and whose ca­reers are gen­er­ally on the way up.


What about the pan­icked ex­o­dus of re­tirees flee­ing the state? It’s slow­ing.

The most re­cent num­bers show that Con­necti­cut lost a net of 1,382 peo­ple 65 and older to other states. But that loss has grown much less se­vere. In 2016, Con­necti­cut lost a net of 5,540 peo­ple 65 and older to other states.

A few more in­ter­est­ing de­tails about the mi­gra­tion of older peo­ple:

In 2017, more older Amer­i­cans moved to Con­necti­cut — 5,623 — than in any other year since at least 2008.

And the num­ber of older Con­necti­cut res­i­dents mov­ing out, 7,005, was about 3,600 fewer than last year. That’s the first de­crease in five years and the sharpest in at least a decade.

That means older Con­necti­cut res­i­dents were more likely to stay put last year.


In terms of in­come groups, the $25,000 to $34,999 bracket saw the big­gest in­crease last year — 6,775 peo­ple earn­ing within that range moved out of Con­necti­cut, but 7,840 moved in from other states, ac­cord­ing to the es­ti­mates, a net gain of 1,065 peo­ple.

That’s a key group, said Thomas J. Cooke, a de­mog­ra­pher and pro­fes­sor at the Univer­sity of Con­necti­cut’s ge­og­ra­phy depart­ment.

“Peo­ple who move in with low in­comes are young,” he said. “Their in­come tra­jec­tory is up­ward.”

Peo­ple want to live in a place that “gives them value added for where they are in their life course,” he said.

Con­necti­cut is still a great place to raise chil­dren, and it is at­trac­tive to peo­ple in those child-rais­ing years who value good schools.

In 2016, far more peo­ple — 3,455 — in that in­come group moved out of Con­necti­cut than moved in. An­other in­di­ca­tion that things are look­ing up.

There’s good news at the higher end, as well. The net in­crease in state-to-state mi­gra­tion last year for peo­ple earn­ing more than $75,000 was 208. In 2016, there was a net loss of 3,976 peo­ple in that same earn­ing bracket. -3,222 The net loss of peo­ple with grad­u­ate or pro­fes­sional de­grees to other states. Although this num­ber is still a se­ri­ous con­cern, the out­flow is less than last year, when the state saw a net loss of 4,354 peo­ple in the same ed­u­ca­tion group.

On the pos­i­tive side, Con­necti­cut saw a gain of 2,455 peo­ple with some col­lege or an as­so­ciate de­gree, up from a net loss of 6,616 peo­ple in that de­mo­graphic last year.


From 2016 to 2017, Con­necti­cut ex­pe­ri­enced an es­ti­mated net loss of 15,646 peo­ple to other states. Yes, that’s a big loss, but it’s much smaller than the one be­fore. The loss from 2015-2016 was 37,328 peo­ple. That year, Con­necti­cut earned the du­bi­ous dis­tinc­tion of be­ing among the top states in per­cent­age loss of its peo­ple.

Mr. Cooke, the UConn de­mog­ra­pher, points to data that show Con­necti­cut’s out-mi­gra­tion was much more of a prob­lem in the early 1990s.

One fac­tor that might be keep­ing out-mi­gra­tion lower in Con­necti­cut is its high rate of dual-earner house­holds. Mr. Cooke said that if one spouse loses their job but the other is still em­ployed, it’s more dif­fi­cult to up­root the whole fam­ily than to hold on and try to find an­other job. It’s a com­pelling ar­gu­ment.


That’s how many peo­ple who moved to Con­necti­cut from abroad in 2017, which was more than enough to off­set the state-to-state loss. Im­mi­gra­tion con­tin­ues to be key to Con­necti­cut’s growth. With­out it, the state’s pop­u­la­tion would still be drop­ping.

Over­all, these num­bers are small, and as these are es­ti­mates, it would be pre­ma­ture to pop any corks. But they are im­prove­ments from last year. If noth­ing else, they show that the bot­tom has not fallen out.

It’s time to ease up on the “ev­ery­one is flee­ing” rhetoric.

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