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A Closer Look At Groton's Economic 'Distress'

Groton has not been on the list of distressed municipalities for more than 10 years, and falls below most other communities by seven of nine economic measures.

Groton’s appearance on the list of “distressed municipalities” is the first time the community has been on the list in more than 10 years, according to the senior analyst who compiled the report.

The list ranks communities statewide based on nine areas, including per capita income, poverty, unemployment and education.

Groton ranked 22nd on the list of 25 most distressed areas in 2012, and was one of three communities in New London County mentioned.

Kolie Sun, senior research analyst for the Department of Economic and Community Development who compiled the report, said Groton has not been on the list since 2000.

“This past ten years, a lot of things have happened in terms of the economy, and it seems like based on these nine criteria, Groton has performed on the lower end of the economy,” she said.

'It's all relative'

The data measures towns against one another, so factors that may appear positive when looked at alone can be relatively poor values when compared to others.

For example, Groton reported 89.8 percent of adults age 25 or older have a high school degree or better. But by this measure, Groton ranked 122 out of 169 Connecticut municipalities.

“It's all relative. This distressed community list is comparing towns. So if you are doing better than the others you are moving up. If you don’t move, or you don’t do well, you move down,” Sun said.

“That’s why, when you look at 89.8, you think, ‘That’s a very good percentage.’ But when you compare to other towns, you are not that great.”

Population and jobs

Some measures showed similar trends although they are not directly linked; for example, the Department of Labor reported an unemployment rate of 9.3 percent in Groton 2011, ranking the community 140th out of 169 cities and towns.

Similarly, Groton showed a population gain of .5 percent from 2000 to 2010, or almost flat growth. Population trends are considered a measure of economic distress as people will move into an area for jobs and leave if they cannot find work, Sun said. Groton ranked 151 out of 169 towns by this measure.

By comparison, Norwich, which reported greater poverty and lower per capita income than Groton, nevertheless showed population growth of 12.1 percent during this period, ranking it 22 out of 169. The city showed similar employment growth, ranking 10th.

Nine Measures

A look at how Groton fared in each of the nine areas is listed below:

  • Per capita income, 2010: $31,110. Ranked 133 out of 169 municipalities.
  • Percentage of poverty, 2010: 7.2 percent. Ranked 130 out of 169.
  • Unemployment rate, 2011: 9.3 percent. Ranked 140 out of 169.
  • Percentage of population change, 2000-2010: Growth of 0.5 percent. Ranked 151 out of 169.
  • Percentage of employment change, 2001-2011. Decease of 0.9 percent. Ranked 142 out of 169.
  • Pecentage change in per capita income, 2000 to 2010: Growth of 29.7 percent. Ranked 80 out of 169.
  • Percentage of housing built in 1939 or earlier: 17.8 percent. Ranked 24 out of 56. (This value was cut by one third in the report).
  • Percentage of people age 25 or older with a high school degree or more: 89.8 percent. Ranked 122 out of 169.
  • Adjusted net grand list per captia (grand list divied by number of people living in the town, adjusted by income): $41,777. Ranked 107 out of 169.

Vast disparities

The report showed vast disparities among communities in the state, particularly when viewing the adjusted grand list. For example, Hartford ranked last, with a value of $9,643.

At the top, New Canaan ranked second, with a per capita value of $581,561. Greenwich was first, with a per capita value of $638,614.

Dannyboy September 10, 2012 at 11:09 AM
But Groton leads the league in the amount of police departments, fire departments and hey, why have one highway department, when you can have two. What a joke. Let not forget that when Pfizer knocks one of the biggest buildings down in Groton (schduled for the spring and permits in hand) that takes a few mil off the books to boot. WOW. Can anyone say "time for another bond rating reduction."
B.R.E.E. September 10, 2012 at 11:18 AM
It seems that population growth is weighted. Sure Norwich had substantial growth but its because we collectively are poorer and those people can only afford Norwich. Many poorer families are fleeing New London/Groton for Norwich. You can find a cheaper, larger rental there most of the time. Anyway, it is surprising how low Groton ranks on the list. We definitely need to stop this state of decline.
Ross Mandell September 10, 2012 at 12:31 PM
this is not at all surprising considering the low quality of the town management.
Ross Mandell September 10, 2012 at 12:33 PM
these people are only now trying to figure out what to do about Pfizer's leaving when it has been known for years that they are out of here.
Mariellen V. French September 10, 2012 at 04:10 PM
The newest member of the Town Council (Ms. Morton) said during her campaign that municipalities should look at their income BEFORE they decide how much money to spend. That's how most of us do it. I hope the Town looks again at how much of our tax dollars they are spending, especially in these fiscally unsettled times. If you look at the figures stated in the report, most of us make way less money than department heads and the Town Manager. Bonding large sums for ten to twenty years costs money in interest payments.
Larry Lynch September 10, 2012 at 04:12 PM
I find it hard to believe that anyone is surprised Pfizer wants to demolish the buildings. If you, a private individual, had a building on your property that was costing a lot of money in taxes you probably would either find a use for it commensurate with the tax cost, or demolish it to make the taxes go away. It seems no one thought about what might happen when Pfizer leaves town, even though they have a history of doing so.. (It hasn't been all that long since they took a lot of property in New London, got a LOT of incentives, used it as long as the incentives helped the bottom line, and boogied on off to elsewhere). We need to learn (maybe the hard way) that NONE of what we have around us is going to be forever.
Genevieve Triplett September 15, 2012 at 01:03 AM
I can not believe I am reading this! Rotton Groton, mis managment to say the least, where are the voters? The pissed off tax payers.....wow.....

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