With unemployment still relatively high and job losses in prized industries weighing on Connecticut's economy, personal income for state residents failed to increase as much last year as it did in most other states, according to federal statistics released Wednesday.
It was 39th among the states in percent change in personal income from 2013 to 2014, the U.S. Commerce Department reported. Personal income is the sum of net earnings, property income and transfer payments such as pensions.
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Connecticut's 3 percent rise from 2013 to 2014 also lagged other New England states except Maine, where it increased by 2.9 percent.
Measuring personal income helps track how well — or poorly — individuals fare financially as the economy picks up strength following the worst recession in decades and the weak recovery that followed. Personal income also helps determine spending, which is a key driver in the economy.
Nationally, personal income rose 3.9 percent in 2014, with Alaska and Oregon posting the greatest increase at 5.7 percent each. The rise in personal income was weakest in Nebraska, at 0.5 percent.
Connecticut has been vexed by unemployment persistently higher than joblessness nationwide. The unemployment rate in Connecticut was 6.3 percent in January, the most recent month available, while nationally it was 5.7 percent. In 2014, the unemployment rate in Connecticut ranged from 6.3 percent to 7.1 percent while nationally it was 5.6 percent to 6.7 percent.
In addition, well-paid manufacturing and insurance jobs have eroded in the state.
"We don't have the manufacturing capacity, we don't have the insurance industry to the degree we had in employment," said Mark LeClair, an economics professor at Fairfield University. "Therefore, you're not going to get recovery."
Still, Connecticut was No. 1 in in the United States in per-person income last year, at $62,467.
"What Connecticut has is wealth, not income," Le Clair said. "We've accumulated a lot of wealth in property. Income growth has been very disappointing over the last decade."
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