By Luther Turmelle, New Haven Register

Monday, July 14, 2014

Connecticut is the third-best state in the country for women to live and work, according to a new economic report.

The Nutmeg State ranks behind only Vermont and New York in the key economic and social issues that are used in determining the ranking, according to a report in the latest edition of The Connecticut Economy, a University of Connecticut economic quarterly publication. The state ranks in the top 20th percentile in terms of family leave, women’s rights, education, low teen birth rate and safety issues.

“We scored really well,” said Steven Lanza, executive editor of The Connecticut Economy. “Connecticut is an education leader. Nearly 36 percent of women 25 and older hold a bachelor’s degree or higher — a statistic unrivaled by all but Massachusetts, Vermont, Colorado and Maryland.

Connecticut doesn’t fare quite as well in the areas of child care affordability, number of women in the state legislature, occupational choices available to females and the median wage gap between men and women.

“Other states also outpace Connecticut when it comes to women taking on non-traditional work and closing the pay gap,” Lanza said.

Some New Haven-area communities fared better than much of the state in terms of female-to-male earnings ratio, according to the UConn report, which based its town-by-town on 2012 data. Women made 70 cents or more for every dollar men made in nine of New Haven County’s 27 towns, compared to the statewide wage gap level, which has women in Connecticut making 64 cents for every dollar made by men.

Another 10 towns in New Haven County have women making between 60 and 70 cents for every dollar. Women made less than 60 cents for every dollar men made in eight New Haven County towns, including Woodbridge, Guilford, Madison and Bethany, which were the top four communities in terms of per capita income.

Lanza said he doesn’t expect Connecticut’s performance on economic and social issues to be factor in this year’s gubernatorial and legislative elections. The so-called “war on women” — a characterization of certain conservative policies as an assault on women’s issues, especially reproductive rights — has become a hot-button topic on the national political level.

“The level of discourse here in Connecticut is more reasoned, less volatile than on the bigger stage of U.S. politics,” he said. “We don’t have the same political divides here.”

Christine Palm, communications director for the state’s Permanent Commission on the Status of Women, said the UConn report “confirms the findings of number of independent studies” over the past several years.

Palm said legislative study of paid family leave in Connecticut and the recent approval of increases in minimum wage are examples of the state’s lawmakers being sensitive to the economic and social issues important to women.

This story has been updated to reflect that state lawmakers have studied the issue of paid family leave in Connecticut. Call Luther Turmelle at 203-789-5706.

Original Article