New Haven, Conn. — By July 2017, when the state of Connecticut was more than 50 days into the fiscal year without a budget, Angela Serrano had been living at the state-supported Careways Shelter for Women and Children for four months. Serrano was shocked to find herself there when just a few short years ago she had a career, a mortgage and the comforts of middle class life.
The shelter, at that time housing 10 families near New Haven’s historic Wooster Square neighborhood, would be closed by September. The nonprofit group running Careways couldn’t afford to keep it open while financial aid from the state was tied up in budget deliberations — but Serrano, 46, was able to secure an apartment in New Haven for herself, her 17-year-old son and a 9-year-old grandson.
After a futile search for a job there, Serrano found work as a health-care aide in Trumbull, a suburb in nearby Fairfield County. She started night classes at Gateway Community College at the end of May in hopes of earning an EMT license — the ticket, she hopes, to a better-paying, more stable job.
But despite the progress she’s made, Serrano and others like her share a sinking feeling that Connecticut, by some measures the nation’s richest state, is not working for them. It’s a feeling she shares with other working-class Americans who can’t understand why the current economic prosperity seems to be passing them by………
…….What’s left: a bifurcated economy that produces wealth but doesn’t spread much of it out. Connecticut boasted the nation’s highest per capita income in 2017, at $70,121. From 2009 to 2015, the income of the top 1 percent in Connecticut grew by 22.9 percent while incomes for everybody else dropped by 1.8 percent, according to the Economic Policy Institute, a Washington, D.C. think tank. The institute ranks Connecticut the third most unequal state in the country, behind New York and Florida, in its most recent study.