Economic Scorecard

Workforce Alliance and DataCore Partners, LLC publish a monthly Economic Scorecard with our media partner, the New Haven Register. Economic Scorecard analyzes eight economic indicators for South Central CT including employment rate, size of the labor force, unemployment, U.S. Consumer Price Index, consumer confidence, housing starts, home prices and real disposable income.


Donald Klepper-Smith is the cheif economist and director of research for New Haven-based DataCore Partners.



  • May Economic Scorecard
  • April Economic Scorecard

ECONOMIC SCORECARD: Connecticut’s labor market not fully recovered, analysts say; other indicators raise concerns

As Executive Director of Workforce Alliance, the New Haven-based job training agency, Bill Villano doesn’t like what he sees in the May edition of the New Haven Register’s economic scorecard.


It’s not just the 1,500-person decline in the New Haven area labor force that troubles Villano. It’s the numbers that are behind it.


“The New Haven area labor market isn’t fully recovered,” Villano said, referring to the region recovering all the jobs that were lost during the most recent recession. “Three times last year, we reached full recovery and each time, we’d slip back. It’s disconcerting that we can’t attain recovery and sustain it.”


The New Haven Register’s economic scorecard is presented in partnership with DataCore Partners LLC and Workforce Alliance.


The size of the region’s labor force is one of eight economic indicators that make up the scorecard. And in May, half of those indicators — labor force, consumer confidence, new housing units and the median single-family home price — were headed in a negative direction.


Donald Klepper-Smith, chief economist and director of research for New Haven-based DataCore Partners and author of the scorecard, said he is concerned that Great Britain’s exit from the European Union will have a negative effect on companies in the area whose businesses are reliant upon exporting.


“It’s going to dampen job growth and our exports are going to be much less affordable,” Klepper-Smith said. “In times of uncertainty, people seek a safe haven in the U.S. dollar, which in turn drives up the cost of exports.”


Klepper-Smith said he also is concerned about declining home values. The median single-family home price in May for the 14 towns the economic scorecard tracks was $197,500, down $12,400 from the same month in 2015.


“Every dollar you lose on the value of your home translates into seven cents that doesn’t get spent in the local economy,” Klepper-Smith said.


Concerns about employment and housing values had an impact on consumer confidence, which was down 6.9 percent in May compared to the same period in 2015.


Klepper-Smith said it also didn’t help consumer confidence that real disposable income indicator in the scorecard was flat, earning it a neutral rating, Real disposable income is the amount of money that households have available for spending and saving after income taxes have been accounted for.


“I’m concerned because the real disposable income (level) in Massachusetts is four times what it is in Connecticut,” he said. “When you’re not getting growth in real disposable income, people start asking questions. Consumers are concerned about where the economy is going.”


New housing units, which are considered a leading economic indicator regarding the health of the housing market, were off dramatically in May compared to the same period a year ago. There were only 22 new housing units approved in May of this for the 14 towns the economic scorecard tracks, compared to 84 during the same period in 2015.


Two of the scorecard’s labor components, total employment and the region’s jobless rate, were headed in a positive direction. The region added 800 jobs in May compared to the same period in 2015 and the unemployment rate was down two-tenths of a percentage point.


But Villano said employment gains don’t tell the whole story of the state of the New Haven-area economy in the latest scorecard. The breakdown of gains and losses from different employment sectors in the region showed some volatility in health care and education jobs, he said.


“Health care lost 1,000 jobs and education lost 500,” Villano said. “Those sectors are traditionally the two strongest for our area. From a job training standpoint, they were good to train people for because there was always demand.”

-- By Luther Turmelle, New Haven Register, Published July 3, 2016.

ECONOMIC SCORECARD: Eight indicators make up the New Haven Register’s economic scorecard and, in April, only half of them were headed in a positive direction.

That’s down significantly from February’s numbers, which saw all but one of the indicators headed in a positive direction. And while Donald Klepper-Smith, chief economist and director of research for New Haven-based DataCore Partners and author of the scorecard, said he doesn’t see Connecticut or the New Haven area “headed into a recession any time soon,” the economy is approaching an important juncture.


“Consumer confidence, jobs and income growth: You can’t have a tangible recovery without all three,” Klepper-Smith said. “Growth has become pretty spotty.”


The New Haven Register’s economic scorecard is presented in partnership with DataCore Partners LLC and Workforce Alliance.


The April scorecard for the New Haven area has a pair of indicators — the size of the labor force and the number of new housing permits issued in 14 towns — headed in a negative direction compared to the same period in 2015. The size of the region’s labor force was down 0.4 percent in April, compared to the same period a year ago, while new housing permits were down 44.6 percent.


“The labor force numbers show we’re losing vitality there,” Klepper-Smith said. “A lot of that, though, is being skewed by what’s going on politically, both at the state and national levels.”


William Villano, president and chief executive officer of Workforce Alliance, said it is “premature” to draw any conclusions from the economic indicators the scorecard tracks.


“From my experience over a number of years, the labor force tends to fluctuate,” Villano said. “We need to see a few more months worth of downturns to think we have a negative trend.”


Two other indicators — real disposable income and the unemployment rate — received “neutral” ratings, meaning there wasn’t enough growth or decline in the numbers to warrant either a positive or negative ranking. Klepper-Smith said real disposable income was up just under one percent while the unemployment rate in the New Haven Labor Market area increased 0.1 percent.


“I try to give the region the benefit of the doubt,” he said of the “neutral” rating for the unemployment rate. “It could have easily been a negative ranking, though.”


The four indicators headed in a positive direction were:

• Total employment in the New Haven labor market area, which increased by 0.3 percent.

• The consumer price index was up by just 1.1 percent when comparing April 2016 to the same period in 2015. That indicates relatively low inflation levels.

• Consumer confidence, which was up 56.7 percent in April.

• Median single-family housing prices were up by $1,200 compared to April 2015.


Klepper-Smith said there in a link between the growth in median housing prices and the increase in consumer confidence.


“When people start seeing growth in the equity of their homes, they feel wealthier,” he said. “Research has shown that for every dollar the value of your home increases, you spend an additional 7 cents because you can tap into the equity.”


Klepper-Smith said one long-term way the New Haven and Connecticut economy can improve is by reducing energy costs. He said some of that involves using a multi-faceted approach to energy the way Massachusetts is, including a broad use of renewables as well as natural gas and oil.


“But at what point do they become cost effective?” he said, using solar panels as an example. “The cost of photovoltaic panels is coming down dramatically, but so is the price of oil.”


Joel Gordes, a West Hartford-based energy consultant, said Connecticut lawmakers “are holding us back,” by not passing legislation that would encourage growth in the renewable energy field, particularly solar panels.


“We could be surging ahead, adding jobs and revenue for the state, while at the same time moving toward a distributed energy future, which would make us less susceptible to outages,” Gordes said.

--By Luther Turmelle, New Haven Register, Published June 5, 2016.