Dean Marino, a retiree from the state police in 2007, began working as a private detective late that year. Then, the typical private eye was paid more than $21 an hour, and by 2012, the midpoint in the salary range was down to $17.56 an hour.
Marino has his own business in West Hartford, but for a few months in 2007, he worked as a p.i. as an employee, and was paid $19 an hour.
"You have a wealth of knowledge and experience, but you're not being compensated fairly," he said.
He ended up working full time as a security manager from 2008 to 2010 because he couldn't drum up enough business working for himself. He still doesn't have as much work as he'd like, or enough to match his former state salary, which was more than $70,000 in his final year.
He said a lot of people, when they find out what it's going to cost to find a missing person, say: "It's just too expensive, I can't afford it."
"I do get people that are shopping around," he said. "There is a lot of competition. I'm going to give you a product that's professional and ethical and left no stone unturned. If you have a toothache, you go to the dentist, you don't go to the plumber."
Women who go for facials are also making similar calculations: wanting the service, but wondering how much they should budget for it.
Skin specialists were second worst in the measure of which occupations lost the most ground. The data say that in 2012, half of the state's skin specialists make less than $9.28 an hour. This covers people who do facials, laser hair removal and the like.
Terri Carboni, an esthetician and owner of Skin Care Studio in Niantic, said that she worked at Norwalk Inn's spa for 24 years and that she doesn't believe any of the women who give facials there are paid that little.
But she said she does see the economy's effect on her job. Tips are lower. Women who used to be regular clients got laid off from Pfizer and moved away. Women who used to come in every six weeks for a facial wait eight or 12 weeks before coming again.
In response, she introduced a "petite retreat" facial, at $65 rather than $95, and she said demand seems to be picking up. She is also discounting products so that she doesn't lose sales to online vendors.
When she worked for the Norwalk Inn, she worked 35 hours a week, and her goal is to have 20 hours a week of facials at her own studio. She's pleased that she phased out of working for the Inn two years ago to concentrate on her spa, which has been open 11 years.
"Working on people, seeing the way their skin is looking, it's just very rewarding," she said.
The rewards to the psyche are also why Jonathan Stankiewicz, 24, hasn't regretted becoming a newspaper reporter. The median pay of reporters — for newspapers but also for TV stations, magazines and online outlets — fell 26 percent during the five years when inflation is taken into account.
"Informing the public is a feeling that is very hard to describe," he said. "It's empowering."
Half the reporters in Connecticut earn less than $32,220 a year, or about $15 an hour. Five years earlier, the typical reporter earned $39,510.
Stankiewicz, who works for the Chronicle in Willimantic, said he's in the bottom half of pay for reporters, but he thinks his paycheck is fine.
"Obviously you work your way up in this business; it's not about making less than 30,000 [dollars] in your life."
Stankiewicz lives with his parents in Vernon so he can pay $600 a month in student loans. But he hopes to move in with a roommate by next spring.
He is concerned that with the shrinking business, there may not be a job for him at a bigger paper that would pay more. The woman he replaced went back to school, he said. He said that 90 percent of the reporters he knew at the Journal Inquirer when he was an intern are no longer in journalism.