Connecticut’s annual export figures improved in 2022 but remain below pre-pandemic levels.
According to the July issue of The Connecticut Economic Digest, jointly published by the Connecticut Department of Labor (DOL) and the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD), in 2022 Connecticut’s commodity exports increased to roughly $15.3 billion dollars, up from roughly $14.5 billion dollars in 2021. For the past two years, the state’s overall exports have increased by at least five percent. Between 2021 and 2022, total exports to the state’s partner countries increased by 5.47 percent. Between 2020 and 2021, they increased by 5.21 percent.
But while overall trade has increased, exports to Germany, Connecticut’s largest trading partner in terms of the value of exports, decreased between 2022 and 2021. In 2022, Connecticut exported roughly $2.1 billion worth of goods to Germany. The prior year, it exported roughly $2.3 billion, a drop of 10.1 percent.
Germany wasn’t the only country to which Connecticut’s exports decreased in 2022. Exports to China, the state’s seventh largest partner country, decreased by roughly 29.3 percent between 2022 and 2021, dropping from approximately $1.2 billion to $887 million.
According to the International Trade Administration, part of the federal Department of Commerce, the value of Connecticut’s exports peaked in 2018 at $17.4 billion.
The state’s top export continues to be aircraft, spacecraft, and their parts. Growth in the commodities mirrored the overall growth in the state’s total exports between 2020 and 2022. Between 2021 and 2022, the value of the exported commodities grew by 5.47 percent. Between 2020 and 2021, it grew by 5.21 percent.
The largest growth in the value of the state’s exported commodities, however, did not come from its top exports. After aircraft and spacecraft, Connecticut’s biggest exported commodities are industrial machinery, optics, electric machinery, and plastics. According to DOL and DECD, Connecticut’s aerospace sector was “particularly hard hit” by the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite growth in the value of exported aircraft and spacecraft, DOL and DECD report that the sector has not yet returned to pre-pandemic levels.
The largest commodity increase between 2022 and 2021 came from mineral fuel and oil, which grew by just over 409 percent between 2021 and 2022. According to DOL and DECD, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is partly responsible for the growth as “exports of crude oil and petroleum surged as other countries looked to the U.S. as a non-Russian energy source.”
Between 2022 and 2021, Connecticut saw a decrease in exports of only one of its top ten commodities. Inorganic chemicals, precious and rare earth metals, and radioactive compounds make up the state’s tenth biggest commodity. Exports fell by 12.73 percent between 2021 and 2022 despite seeing growth of just under 50 percent between 2020 and 2021.
Regionally, the value of Connecticut’s exports ranked only below Massachusetts in 2022. New England’s commodity exports totaled over $6.14 billion in 2022, a 3.53 percent increase from the previous year. According to DOL and the DECD, the regions’ exports have now returned to pre-pandemic levels.