It’s no secret that business and the state’s economy have been severely challenged by the coronavirus pandemic.
But if there is any break in the cloudy economic clouds over Connecticut, the manufacturing sector is one place to find it.
This state’s economy actually grew 32.6% in the third quarter of 2020, according to the Connecticut Business and Industry Association, after a jolting 31.1% contraction of the GDP in the second quarter, caused by the pandemic. The healthcare, manufacturing, and finance sectors led that recovery.
A CBIA survey published in July found that although 56 percent of manufacturers cut hours, furloughed or laid off workers, another 25 percent made no changes, and a few increased hiring or worker hours.
“Most Connecticut manufacturers’ doors stayed open throughout the pandemic,” according to the survey, although it has been “incredibly difficult.”
For instance, aerospace parts supplier Jonal Laboratories Inc., in Meriden, was hit by the dropoff in air travel during the pandemic but was able to stay busy through diversification, an increase in military contracts, and funding from the federal government’s Paycheck Protection Program.
Before the pandemic, Connecticut manufacturers faced a shortage of skilled workers brought on by the retirement of aging workers. That problem is expected to continue in 2021. Fortunately, there are state programs in place designed to bring more people into the manufacturing pipeline.
The picture is far from rosy — and no one is expecting anything like a return to the old days, when thousands of workers filed into factories like International Silver’s “Big Shop” in downtown Meriden every day — but we can take at least a bit of comfort in knowing that some parts of the economy are still working and can be expected to help pull the rest of it up, once this pandemic finally ends.
We trust that will happen in the coming year.