HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) – Many people of color and young workers in Connecticut have been left behind in the recovery from the Great Recession that ended in 2009, while child poverty in the state has hit a record high, according to a report released Thursday by a children's advocacy group.
Connecticut Voices for Children, a New Haven-based think tank, said in its State of Working Connecticut 2015 report that the unemployment rate for black residents in 2014 was more than double the rate for white residents — 13 percent compared with 5 percent. About 11 percent of Hispanics were unemployed.
The unemployment rate for blacks in Connecticut fell 0.3 percentage points from 2012 to 2014, while the rate for whites dropped 1.7 percentage points and the rate for Hispanics declined nearly 5 percentage points, the group reported.
Minorities in Connecticut also are earning less than their white counterparts. Blacks earned a median hourly wage of $14.46 and Hispanics $13.66 in 2014, while whites made $21.72, according to the report. Median hourly wages in the state have been declining over the past several years.
The report also found that about 12 percent of all workers ages 16 to 24 are unemployed — twice the rate of older workers.
Connecticut has seen a steady decline in its unemployment rate over the past five years, mirroring a national trend. But the state hasn't recovered all the 119,000 jobs lost in the economic downtown. About 100,000 of the lost jobs have been recovered, according to the state Labor Department.
Meanwhile, 14.9 percent of all Connecticut children, or about 114,000, lived below the federal poverty level in 2014, an all-time high, according to census data analyzed by Voices for Children. Census data released in September showed that one in three black and Hispanic children lived in poverty in 2014, compared with one in 20 white children.
"Connecticut's recovery is mixed," said Nicholas Defiesta, a fiscal policy fellow at Connecticut Voices for Children. "Some people are in a much better position than others. Although state per-capita income remains the highest in the nation, the state's young, minority, low-income, and less-educated workers have disproportionately experienced falling wages and higher joblessness."
The group said economic instability threatens children's health, school performance and success as adults, as well as causes damaging stress.
Voices for Children is urging state lawmakers to reduce taxes on working families and reform state funding for schools, colleges and early childhood education. The group says many low-income and minority children don't have access to well-regarded schools that could improve their chances for success later in life.
A spokesman for Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said Thursday that state funding for schools has increased 24 percent, or nearly $600 million, during the Democrat's tenure of nearly five years. The spokesman, Devon Puglia, said the state has expanded prekindergarten programs and is working to improve the state's lowest-performing schools.
"I think we all agree that education is central to tackling poverty and giving every child an opportunity to succeed," Puglia said.