district profile
Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk Metro Area

Fairfield County

Fairfield County is home to 917,000 people and somewhat over 600,000 jobs. Bridgeport is the county’s (as well as the state’s) largest city, with a population of just under 145,000; the county’s other major cities include Stamford, with just under 123,000 residents, and Norwalk and Danbury, with 86,000 and 81,000, respectively. The county exactly coincides with the Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk metro area. With 1,465 residents per square mile, Fairfield is the most densely populated county in Connecticut, but considerably less dense than either neighboring Westchester County or most of northern New Jersey.

The county’s educational profile is one of the highest in the nation: 43 percent of adults hold college degrees, compared with 35 percent statewide and 27 percent nationally. Median household income is also among the highest in the nation—just under $82,000, based on 2009 estimates, versus $68,000 statewide and $50,000 nationally. Despite the county’s affluent profile, there are large pockets of poverty, most notably in the city of Bridgeport. Fairfield County’s demographic profile is fairly close to that of the nation, if slightly more diverse: 11 percent of residents are Black, 17 percent are Hispanic and another 5 percent are Asian.

Despite its proximity to New York City, Fairfield County is not merely a “bedroom community”. Its job base is fairly large relative to its population, and only about 7 percent of working residents commuted to New York City, based on the 2000 Census (latest data available). The financial sector accounts for a disproportionately large share of the local economy: 11 percent of employment and 33 percent of earnings—double and triple the respective nationwide averages. Hedge funds represent a relatively large share of the county’s financial sector.

The county registered sharp job losses during this past downturn, roughly in line with the nation overall: private-sector employment fell by roughly 7 percent from peak (early-2008) to trough (late 2009). Like the nation as a whole (and most of the tri-state region), employment began to recover starting in 2010. Wage & salary earnings fell by roughly 10 percent in 2009—more sharply than at the national level—led by a roughly 15 percent decline in the financial sector.

Home prices in Fairfield County, on average, are perennially among the highest in the nation: based on data for 2007-09, the median home value was $485,000, or roughly 2½ times the national average. After surging by more than 80 percent during the housing boom (2000-06), home prices fell by an estimated 24 percent from early 2006 to early 2009—a bit less steeply than nationwide. Prices edged up in 2010 but fell back in the second half of the year.

Recent Trends
Employment in Fairfield County has rebounded in fits and starts, maintaining a moderate pace of growth up through early 2012, but then stalling over the remainder of that year and into early 2013. However, during the spring and early summer of 2013, employment grew briskly—possibly boosted by repairs and rebuilding following Superstorm Sandy—before, once again, tapering off during the fall. Well over half of the total job losses from the recession have been reversed, despite increasingly steep job losses in the county's key finance sector. Much of the net job creation has been in private education & health services, as well as in professional & business services and leisure & hospitality. Home prices have rebounded somewhat over the past year and a half, but not nearly as fast as nationwide.1

1Trends in home prices referred to here are all based on repeat-sales indexes from CoreLogic.

  Fairfield County*: selected characteristics
    Population in 2010 % of 2010 Population that is1  
  Total Population1 % Change from 20001 per Sq. Mile2 Black Hispanic Asian  
  Fairfield County 916,829   3.9   1465   10.8   16.9   4.6  
  Connecticut 3,574,097   4.9   738   10.1   13.4   3.8  
  USA 308,745,538   9.7   87   12.6   16.3   4.8  

  Fairfield County*: selected characteristics
    Median % of Homes % of Adults with5  
  Household Income3 Home Value4 Owner Occupied4 College Degrees HS Degrees  
  Fairfield County $81,639   $485,600   70.9   43.4   88.2  
  Connecticut $66,906   $301,000   69.2   34.8   88.2  
  USA $50,221   $191,900   66.4   27.5   84.6  
* Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) are metro areas defined by the Office of Management and Budget for use by federal statistical agencies.
1 Source: US Bureau of the Census, decennial Census of Population.
2 Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Census of Population; land area data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s geographic database (TIGER® database) for Census 2000.
3 Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census, American Community Survey, 2009 (1-year estimates)

Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census, American Community Survey, 2007-09 (3-year estimates)


Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census, American Community Survey, 2006-08 (3-year estimates)

December 2013