With a median household income of over $65,000, Connecticut ranks in the top five wealthiest states in the nation thanks to the number of residents who commute to high-paying jobs in New York City as well as the number of large companies headquartered in the state. Connecticut also boasts the fourth-highest percentage of college-educated residents (approximately 35.6%) and is home to Ivy League standout Yale University, which was ranked #3 in the nation by U.S. News and World Reports in 2015.
Long known as the "insurance capital" of the United States, Connecticut is home to insurance giants such as Aetna and Cigna. Other major industries include high-tech services and manufacturing (General Electric, GTE, Xerox, Pitney Bowes), financial services (Deloitte & Touche, Hartford Financial Services Group), aerospace and defense (United Technologies, General Dynamics), travel and hospitality (Priceline Group, Starwood Hotels & Resorts) and more. All told, 17 Fortune 500 companies were headquartered in Connecticut as of 2015.
The third-smallest state in terms of land area, Connecticut's population of about 3.5 million is largely concentrated in several medium-sized cities: Stamford, Bridgeport, Norwalk and New Haven along the south-central coast; Hartford, Waterbury and New Britain in the central part of the state; Danbury in the southwest; and Groton-New London on the northern coast. The northwestern corner of Connecticut is largely rural.
In spite of the state's impressive median household income, a significant gap exists between wealthy “Gold Coast” enclaves like Greenwich, Darien and New Canaan and the blighted neighborhoods and brownfields that exist in once-booming industrial areas such as Bridgeport, Hartford and New Haven. In 2014, the state provided grants totaling $3.8 million to 21 communities in an effort to clean up and repurpose properties in blighted areas.
Given these disparities, real estate varies widely across the state – even within the same county. The most populous county due to its proximity to NYC, Fairfield County, with more than 900,000 residents, offers both ends of the spectrum. In affluent Darien, the median home value was $1 million (with a notable five-year appreciation of 27%) in 2015, while in grittier Bridgeport it was only a fraction of that at $186,759 (and only 4% appreciation). Statewide, the median home value in 2015 was $271,171, and the median rental price was $1,322.
Connecticut's four-season climate is relatively mild compared with other New England states. Although variable in temperature, the climate is moderated substantially by air masses coming in from Long Island Sound. The topography of the state is mostly hilly, with the extremes of heat in the summer and cold in the winter, as well as greater precipitation generally occurring in the higher elevation northwest corner. Annual rainfall statewide averages 42 inches, with snowfall averaging 29 inches. January and February are the snowiest months with about eight inches each month on average.
The Constitution State’s temperate climate is favorable to growing a wide range of crops, including nursery and greenhouse plants (shrubs, flowers, vegetables, etc.), peaches, apples, dairy products, eggs, cattle, hay and tobacco. Despite the concentrated population in the state’s southwestern region, 60% of the land area remains farmland, open space and forest. As for aquaculture off the coast, Connecticut has more than 70,000 acres of shellfish farms and harvests around 450,000 bushels of hard clams and 250,000 bushels of oysters each year.