Wall Street/West Avenue Study: Norwalk Economy and Employment

January 16, 2019

A market study of Norwalk commissioned by the Norwalk Redevelopment Agency as part of it’s planning for the Wall Street/West Avenue area took a look at the City’s economy and employment situation. Overall, the study found that the largest portion of residents are employed in educational services, healthcare and social assistance. The study also pointed out that Norwalk households have higher incomes than Connecticut but lower than Fairfield County. Below are details of the findings.

State of Business in Norwalk

Norwalk’s business economy has done well over the past few years, growing consistently. However, total employment declined between 2015 and 2017 by approximately 1.5% per year. Fairfield County shows a similar trend; the numbers of businesses have been growing at similar rates, between 1% to 2% per year, while employment declined between 2016 and 2017. For the state of Connecticut as a whole, total employment continued to increase, albeit more slowly than in the years immediately prior.

Employment for Norwalk Residents

The largest industry that Norwalk residents are employed in is educational services, health care and social assistance industries (20%), followed by professional, scientific, and management industries and administrative and waste management services (16%). These are followed by retail trade (12% of residents), then finance and insurance, real estate rental and leasing, arts, entertainment, and recreation, accommodation and food services, all at 10%.

Norwalk Employment by Industry

Norwalk has lower manufacturing employment than the state as a whole or Fairfield County, with only 5% of Norwalk residents employed in this industry as opposed to 8% in Fairfield County and 11% statewide.

The above numbers are also reflected in the shifts in industry sectors over the last 10 years. Educational services and health care and social assistance expanded by 46% over that time frame, while manufacturing employment contracted by 39%. Employment in retail trade is similar to 2006 levels, while employment in professional, scientific, management and administrative, and waste management services grew by a modest 6% over that time frame. However, due to the size of these industries, this change still represents a notable increase in total number of jobs.

Unemployment in Norwalk over the last several years has declined and has been consistently lower than Fairfield County or Connecticut as a whole. As of April 2018, Norwalk’s unemployment rate was 3.8%.

Wages In Norwalk

Annual wages for employees in Norwalk vary widely by industry. The city has significant employment in high-wage industries, including finance and insurance, management, professional, scientific and technical services, and real estate. Conversely, some of the other major employment sectors, including accommodation and food services, educational services, and arts, entertainment and recreation, are among the lowest-paid industries.

The state of the economy and employment in Norwalk is mixed. While there is significant employment in high wage areas and the number of businesses are growing, employment is declining in the city.

Read the Full Draft of the Wall Street/West Avenue Neighborhood Plan
(The study begins on page 84 )