What has caused the Connecticut population to stagnate?

By: Daisy Karega, Research Associate

Addressing the need for the State’s equitable housing needs for different population groups.

Historically, Connecticut has experienced population losses to other regions of the US. According to a study carried out by a research team at Urban Institute, after growing through most of the past decade, Connecticut’s population has been declining in recent years. “Two thirds of household growth since 2000 have been in Fairfield, Hartford, and New Haven Counties, but domestic outmigration has driven Connecticut’ s population decline since 2011, despite an increase in international immigration.[i] Additionally, statistics show that the population is projected to drop over the next two decades. As researched in Connecticut’s population and Migration Trends study[ii], the recent declines in Connecticut’s total population are primarily driven by increasing rates of net domestic out-migration and to a smaller degree a declining birth rate. There has been a net increase of 55% of people leaving Connecticut for other states within the period of 2013-2016 compared to mid-2000s.

Nationally, the top reasons for moving in and out of states are housing (48%) and employment (20%) (Census Population Survey). Are these the same reasons causing Connecticut’s declining population? And is Connecticut unique in these declines? “When looking at domestic migration trends in the region, many states have shown improvement compared to pre-recession, or returned to the same rate as pre-recession. Connecticut and Vermont are the two exceptions with increased rates of domestic out-migration.” The net-domestic out-migration in Connecticut has nearly doubled from pre-recession rates.

According to an annual study by a national moving company, Connecticut remained a top state where people moved from in 2020 primarily due to retirement (31.28%) or a job opportunity (30.26%)[iii]. According to Hartford Courant, those who moved tended to be older, with 60.76% at least 55 years old. Post-recession, Connecticut is losing a higher number of 22-29 year old’s and those aged 65 or older compared to pre-recession2.  Three metro areas in Connecticut ranked among the top 25 in the country for share of outbound moves: New Haven-Waterbury-Meriden (62%), Hartford-New Britain-Middletown (63%) and Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk (69%).”3 This decline reflects demographic changes including an aging population, and a decrease in the white population. There are several ways that have been suggested to target the age groups that are more prone to migrating to other states; for older residents seeking retirement and the younger generation pursuring jobs, this includes lowering taxes and providing more equitable services appropriate for their age group. Keeping older residents is beneficial in a way that they require little of state-funded program assistance but provide a huge contribution to property and state income tax revenue.[iv]

As populations change in Connecticut, demand for specific types of housing will change as well. New policies will have to be put in place to account for the out-migration happening as well as the booming international migration into the state. It is necessary to view these changes in accordance with each age and racial group to determine the current and future needs of the next demographics of Connecticut. There is a need to study equitable housing needs in the state; an equitable housing strategy will help “leverage affordable housing investment dollars, services and protections, ensuring that all people – regardless of race, ethnicity, family status or disability – have a range of choices for where to live now and in the future.”[v]

Daisy Karega is a recent graduate of Trinity College.

[i] Lo, Lydia. “Housing Connecticut’s Future,” February, 2021, 170.

[ii] Srivastava, Manisha. “Migration Trends: A Multi-Data Source Dive,” May 2017, 46.

[iii] Blair, Russell. “Moving Company Study Says Connecticut Remained a Top State People Left in 2020.” courant.com. Accessed October 29, 2021. https://www.courant.com/business/hc-biz-connecticut-united-van-lines-survey-20210104-ntef3vxd55aurnv5t4vrlviihy-story.html.

[iv] Comer, B. Irina. “Connecticut’s Declining Population Problem.” Accessed October 29, 2021. https://www.courant.com/opinion/letters/hc-le-connecticut-population-0109-20200109-phm5375tqnas5kasp72sark5ki-story.html.

[v] Portland.gov. “What Is Equitable Housing?” Accessed October 29, 2021. https://www.portland.gov/bps/sw-equitable-housing/what-equitable-housing.

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