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Small State’s Aging Population Puts Pinch On Thin Labor Pool

Connecticut CFA
Wayne Pesce

Connecticut is facing a problem not wholly unique but one that is prominent within the small state – an aging population. And according to Wayne Pesce, Connecticut Food Association president, it is slowly making the workforce pool much shallower.

“This demographic shift is impacting the labor force and consumer demand for goods and services,” Pesce said. “Connecticut’s economy is also closely tied to global economic conditions, including trade policies and international markets, which has impacted the state’s manufacturing and financial sectors.”

Conversely, Pesce implied the younger generation is providing an optimistic light for the state’s economic future. “The state has a highly skilled young workforce, a diverse economy and a fairly stable business environment.”

In addition to a labor shortage, the state’s retailers are facing many of the same challenges as their counterparts nationwide. Inflation, rising energy and fuel costs and sporadic supply chain disruptions continue to hinder economic growth. 

Alongside these national-level issues, according to Connecticut Food Association’s website, the state implemented a new Truck Tax on Class 8 through Class 13 vehicles at the beginning of the year. 

The levy is expected to generate $45 million this fiscal year and $90 million the next. Pesce and the CFA are hoping to help educate retailers on how this tax could affect their overall bottom line and actions they should take. 

Still, Pesce said the state is showing signs of economic recovery. Its unemployment rate has been steadily declining and, as of February, sat at 4.6 percent. At the time, that was below the national average. 

“Additionally, the state’s GDP has been growing, with a growth rate of 5.2 percent in the first quarter of 2023…the state’s economy has a diverse range of industries – including healthcare, finance and manufacturing – that helps to cushion the impact of economic downturns,” Pesce said. 

Food retailers are experiencing a higher demand for locally sourced and sustainable products, something Pesce hopes will provide further opportunities and boost the economic outlook. 

“The CFA is facilitating collaboration and partnerships among our members, helping them to work together on common challenges and opportunities,” he said. “By promoting innovation, collaboration and advocacy among our members, we are striving to build a best-in-class trade association model.”

Consumers may have less disposable income, but changes in spending could create new avenues for retailers as they adjust their private label and sales offerings to drive shoppers’ dollars further.

Legislatively, the Connecticut Food Association is working to alter a “Prohibition-era law” that would allow wine sales in grocery stores. The organization also wants to expand the number of SNAP distribution days and to get the state’s unemployent trust fund solvent. 

“Defensively, there are numerous labor issues we are navigating, including minimum wage expansion, predictive scheduling and warehouse worker mandates,” Pesce continued.

The Connecticut Food Association has several events planned for the year, including its upcoming 2023 Golf Outing and the Connecticut Specialty Food Awards. Later in the year, the CFA will host the Retailer of the Year dinner.

To read more market profiles from The Shelby Report, click here.

About the author

Jack R. Jordan

Content Creator

Jordan joined The Shelby Report in May 2022 after over a year in the newspaper industry. A native of Marietta, Georgia, he studied writing and communications at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College. He spends too much time in the grocery store trying to find recipe ingredients, so he looks forward to covering the industry.

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Featured Photo PLMA Annual Private Label Trade Show
Donald E. Stephens Convention Center
Chicago, Illinois
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