Conn. Cheers Insurance Industry Even As It Recognizes Growth Challenge

May 4, 2007

Connecticut’s venerable insurance industry was celebrated at the state Capitol this week, though its lackluster job growth also was noted.

“The industry is as significant a part of Connecticut as it has been in earlier years,” Ronald A. Williams, chief executive and chairman of Aetna, said at a forum on May 2 at the Capitol.

However, Williams said the industry — which has been a part of Connecticut’s economy for more than 200 years — must compete for business not just in the United States, but also globally.

“What are we doing to make Connecticut competitive?” he asked. “There’s a huge opportunity for the state to focus on that opportunity.”

Williams said in an interview later that the industry is not seeking specific legislation from the General Assembly.

The industry employs nearly 68,000 people and more than 91,000 others work in support sectors, according to a report commissioned by the industry and conducted by the Connecticut Economic Resource Center Inc.

Connecticut has the highest concentration of insurance carrier jobs in the United States and ranks first in gross state product generated by insurance carriers.

But other states are increasing their insurance jobs and insurance gross state product at a faster rate than Connecticut, according to the study. Iowa, for example, has increased insurance carrier jobs by 8.8 percent over the last 10 years, while Connecticut’s job growth rate was just 2.4 percent.

“We do have a growth problem here,” said Jeff Blodgett, vice president of research for the Connecticut Economic Resource Center.

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