Impact of reduced Pfizer workforce will have broad repercussions, experts say

The ripple effect as Pfizer Inc. lays off 1,100 employees over the next year and a half is expected to be profound and challenging, both in southeastern Connecticut and the state as a whole, say economic experts who closely follow the local economy.

"The sheer number that is being reduced here is rather shocking," said John Markowicz, executive director of the Southeastern Connecticut Enterprise Region in New London. "This is a big deal. There are 1,100 highly skilled, well-paying jobs that are leaving the area or being eliminated. It's not only the direct effect but the multiplier effect that will ripple through the community."

The impact is likely to hit hardest in towns like East Lyme, which many Pfizer employees have been known to make their home, he said.

Markowicz and Pete Gioia, vice president and economist for the Hartford-based Connecticut Business & Industry Association, say that for every job that's created in a high-tech industry like pharmaceutical research and development, several jobs may be created in other industries. Scientists of this caliber can earn six figures or higher and spend the money buying food, homes, and relying on various support services at the company like copier machines, they said.

"So there's a reverberation throughout the economy when these jobs are created or let go," Gioia said. "This isn't like just losing 1,100 jobs. This is like losing potentially more than that because there obviously will be other industries effected within the commuting radius of these people. That covers Old Saybrook to Colchester to Willimantic, not just New London (and) Groton."

Gioia and Tony Sheridan, president and chief executive officer of the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut, said that despite the bad news, at least 3,300 jobs will be staying at Pfizer.

"We want the company to be successful," said Sheridan. "We have a huge amount at stake here. The company has some of the top scientists in the world living here in Eastern Connecticut, very highly committed people to all things that we strive toward. We want that preserved.

"So, (the question is), what do we need to do to make sure that Pfizer remains in Eastern Connecticut and remains at the level it's at?"

Top notch education is part of the answer Sheridan said.

Gioia noted that, whatever the solutions, and there could be many, adding jobs in Connecticut is crucial.

"You've got to have a state of Connecticut adding a heck of a lot more than 5,300 jobs in a single year, which is what we created in 2010, versus 45,000 in Massachusetts," he said.


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