Connecticut Assembly Votes to Raise State Minimum Wage to $8.75
New Poll Finds Overwhelming Support for Raising CT’s Minimum Wage
Today the Connecticut Assembly voted to raise the state’s minimum wage. If passed by the full legislature, the measure would raise Connecticut’s minimum wage to $8.50 in 2013 and $8.75 in 2014. The vote follows a new Quinnipiac University poll that shows Connecticut residents overwhelmingly support raising the minimum wage.
The bill approved today includes a smaller increase in the minimum wage than the $9.25 previously proposed, and it eliminates the annual adjustment to keep pace with the rising cost of living.
“We applaud the Assembly for taking a step in the right direction, but also recognize that this reduced increase and lack of indexing dampens the boost Connecticut’s economy and families need,” said Paul Sonn, legal co-director of the National Employment Law Project. “Working families are being squeezed more than ever, between rising gas and living costs and flat paychecks. A strong minimum wage is crucial for increasing consumer spending and creating jobs.”
“A low minimum wage is good for the executives at Wal-Mart and McDonald’s, but poverty wages are bad for Connecticut. It’s time to raise the minimum wage. Today’s proposal is an important step in the right direction, because putting more wages in workers’ pockets is good for their families and our economy,” said Lindsay Farrell, Director of the Connecticut Working Families Party.
In the new Quinnipiac poll, 70% of all Connecticut voters stated support for raising the minimum wage. Support included 88% of Democrats, 69% of Independent voters, and 48% of Republicans. Additionally, 59 percent of voters with household incomes above $100,000 and 78 percent of those with incomes of less than $50,000 favor increasing the minimum wage. Seventy-four percent of women and 65 percent of men support an increase.
The minimum wage bill, H.B. 5291, is championed by Connecticut House Speaker Chris Donovan, and Joint Labor Committee co-chairs Representative Bruce “Zeke” Zalaski and Senator Edith Prague, and committee vice chairs Rep. Ezequiel Santiago and Senator Edwin Gomes.
In recent weeks, the New Jersey Assembly also passed legislation to raise the state’s minimum wage. The New York Assembly is expected to do the same in April. Minimum wage proposals are pending in Illinois, Massachusetts, Missouri and California, as well as San Jose and Albuquerque.
The minimum wage is becoming more and more important for the Connecticut and national economies, with job growth strongest in low-wage industries. Indexing the minimum wage to inflation would also mean more predictability for businesses – after indexing, the minimum wage would rise at the same rate as other business costs.
Given that Connecticut has one of the highest costs of living in the country, even workers earning above the minimum wage still struggle to afford basic necessities: According to a recent study, a single worker in the state needs to earn no less than $17.61 per hour just to maintain basic economic security. The state’s minimum wage would be $10.34 today and $10.78 by 2014 if it had been updated each year based on the Consumer Price Index since 1968. During the 2008 Presidential campaign, President Obama called for raising the minimum wage to $9.50 by 2011.
The most rigorous research over the past 15 years, including studies comparing job growth trends in neighboring counties across state lines with different minimum wages, have found that higher minimum wages do not result in job losses. Importantly, this research shows that these trends are the same for minimum wage increases implemented even during weak economic periods, such as the 2009 federal minimum wage increase.