Article written by Luthoe Trumellle of the New Haven Register, click here to view on newhavenregister.com
Sometime between now and June, the New Haven area will achieve something that so far has eluded the rest of Connecticut.
The area economy will have recovered all of the jobs it lost during the last recession. Through November, New Haven and surrounding communities had recovered 94.3 percent of the jobs that were lost, said Donald Klepper-Smith, chief economist and director of research for DataCore Partners as well as the author of the New Haven Register's economic scorecard.
For the second month in a row, the scorecard for November showed six of the eight indicators headed in a positive direction. "New Haven is clearly out-performing the state as a whole," Klepper-Smith said. "This is a continuation of what started happening earlier this fall and it should continue well into 2015."
The New Haven area continued to benefit from continued growth in its labor force during November compared to the same period in 2013, he said. The biggest employment gains came from the food service and hospitality sector, which added 2,100 jobs in the past year, as well 1,700 from health care and an increase of 200 workers in education.
The only two economic indicators that negatively impacted the region's economy in November, according to Klepper-Smith, were real disposable income and consumer confidence. With a prolonged decline in gas prices and oil prices expected to continue, he said New Haven consumers will see more discretionary income available in their pockets every month.
"We currently have the price of oil at about $46 per barrel," Klepper-Smith said. "There's not one economist in the United States that would have predicted that a year ago."
The New Haven area continues to benefit from an improving housing market, he said. The 14 towns included in the new housing starts indicator in the scorecard saw a 34 percent increase in the amount of activity, Klepper-Smith said. And the median single-family housing price in November rose to $210,000, up $5,000 from where it was a year ago.
Robert Wiedenmann, president of Sunwood Development in Wallingford, said there appeared to have been a bit of a slowdown in new home sales during the holiday season. "There were a lot of people attending our open houses, but nobody was buying," Wiedenmann said. "We didn't know whether it was the typical slowdown we see around the holidays or the start of something bigger."
But new home sales in January have started with a surge of activity, he said. "We're getting people who have been on the fence for months (about buying a new home)," Wiedenmann said. "We're seeing a lot of empty nesters come in who are looking to downsize into smaller homes, but are expecting the kind of amenities that you can't get with an existing home unless you do a lot of renovation."