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Economist offers insights to Norwalk crowd

Peter Gioia, vice president of the Connecticut Business & Industry Association (CBIA) speaks Wednesday at a Greater Norwalk Chamber of Commerce in Norwalk. (Harold Cobin)

NORWALK, Conn. — The world economy is booming and Connecticut will benefit, but not as much as it should, an economist said Wednesday.

“We are probably on the cusp of what might be one of the best economic years for the US in 50 years. We are going to have a really, really good 2018 on the national level. The problem for Connecticut is that Connecticut will not fully share in that,” Peter Gioia, vice president of the Connecticut Business & Industry Association (CBIA) said at a Greater Norwalk Chamber of Commerce luncheon held in the Doubletree Hotel.

Video by Harold Cobin at end of story.

Fairfield County is likely to benefit from Brexit but work must be done on the jobs situation in general, Gioai said, urging that Connecticut’s congressional delegation devote attention to immigration reform.

Connecticut has a lower growth rate than the rest of the country largely because its bio-science companies, manufacturers and financial firms sell outside of the United States, he said.

It’s been a slow, weak recovery from the recession but Moody’s has rated the risk of recession in the next year at 5 percent, he said.

“That’s the lowest they’ve ever given,” he said. “They probably can’t give zero because their lawyers would get on their case.”

The worst recessions are exacerbated by spiking oil prices and that’s not likely now due to current market conditions, he said.

On balance, the federal tax cut will probably benefit most people, and with corporations giving bonuses to their employees and investing in the future, “This is going to be highly stimulative to the US economy going forward,” he said.

On the state level, “Manufacturers are doing great but they can’t find people,” he said.

London has been the international financial capital but with Brexit, England’s exit from the European Union, companies are going to move, with the greater New York area probably edging out the next best option, Singapore, he said.

“I would not be surprised if by 2020, we see an additional 5,000 high paying jobs move into our state which otherwise would not be in our state. So that is going to be in itself a powerful addition to our state,” Gioia said.

While Connecticut has huge problems, legislators made the right move when it created a Commission on Fiscal Stability and Economic Growth during last year’s budget crisis, he said, explaining that the Commission will issue a report by March 1, which will then be converted into a bill and put to an up/down vote

“They are looking at some potential tough proposals,” he said, asserting that Connecticut is in a jobs crisis with 25,000 unfilled jobs.

“If we had 25,000 more taxpayers our state budget would look a heck of a lot better than it does right now,” he said.

The legislature has to provide incentives for on the job training and “we have to look hard at our educational institutions, particularly our community colleges and our community technical colleges. To his credit, Gov. Malloy did increase the number of training slots for manufacturers within that, but if you quadrupled the slots, we still wouldn’t be enough,” Gioai said.

Journeymen in building trades would agree to have four apprentices each but only one is allowed, he said.

“Our Congressional delegation has got to go out and outreach to the other Congressional delegations of the northeast states and say, ‘Immigration is not working for us,” he said, advocating for America to follow the lead of Canada and Australia and give green cards to immigrants who graduate from college here with a degree in Science, Technology, Engineering in Math (STEM).

Fairfield County draws the most immigrants in the state and, “You take away immigration and Fairfield County gets stuck in neutral,” he said. “A lot of other things happening on the federal level will be very beneficial to the economy but this is a big one, too.”

2 comments

Rick January 19, 2018 at 5:20 pm

not for nothing Peter is on the money. I’m surprised none of our top experts in urban planning came out against him nor did our city hall trumpets blow foul.

Other than making sense does Peter made some good points, he was right about oil as of this morning.

urging that Connecticut’s congressional delegation devote attention to immigration reform.

Sad if Murpy worked as hard as he does on contributions wonder what Ct could have done in the last year.

Must be heart breaking to Chris to hear higher office is out , news coming from Dc doesn’t have him even on the map in his party for anything more than water boy.

Give the money away cant take it with you Chris.

Piberman January 19, 2018 at 8:24 pm

CT’s economy began failing right after the 2008 Recession. For well known reasons. Growth takes place in Cities. But CT has only 1 viable real City – Stamford – and its an appendage of NYCity. Second, the post-2008 National recovery has centered on hi-tech with its well paid jobs. CT lacks a viable high tech industry. Compare with NY and Massachusetts. CT dosn’t even have a prominent hi-tech, computer or engineering school. Third, outside of 50,000 defense jobs there isn’t much manufacturing in CT. Taken together outside the Gold Coat and the public sector – comprising 1/4th thee State’s GDP – we don’t have many well paid jobs in CT. Not everyone can work for the public sector. CT benefits greatly from the Gold Coast. But the rest of the State lacks access to good jobs.

Most everyone blames Gov. Malloy. Who inherited nearly a $4 billion deficit. But even if the Gov. sharply curtailed the public Union work force and had not imposed 2 historic tax hikes we’d still be a depressed economy. In a word CT faces major decades long structural challenges.

So what can we do. Arguably nothing is more important than changing to full time well paid Legislators well versed in finance and economics. And for everyone to understand that CT cannot afford to be among the nation’s highest paid public Union supporters. Meanwhile the Exodus continues and our recent college grads – our seed capital – will continue to exit CT.

One thing is clear. Changing politicians doesn’t solve the problems built up over many years.

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