Supporters Testify to Raise Connecticut Minimum Wage to $9.75 and Index to Inflation

NATIONAL EMPLOYMENT LAW PROJECT

For Immediate Release: February 28, 2012

Contact: Tim Bradley (314) 440-9936

Advocates for Small Businesses, Workers and Families Testify in Support of Connecticut Bill to Raise Minimum Wage to $9.75 and Index It to Inflation

Assembly Labor Committee Hears Widespread Support For Legislation that would Boost State Economy

HARTFORD, CT – Today leading advocates for small businesses, workers and families testified before the Labor and Public Employees Committee of the Connecticut General Assembly in support of legislation to raise the minimum wage to $9.75 and index it to inflation so it keeps pace with the rising cost of living.  The bill is a key priority of Connecticut House Speaker Chris Donovan and is also championed by Labor Committee Chair Rep. Bruce “Zeke” Zalaski and Vice Chair Rep. Ezequiel Santiago.

According to analysis by Connecticut Voices for Children and Families, the proposed increase would inject more than $71 million per year directly into the state’s economy, and increase the take-home pay of 226,000 workers by up to $750 per year.  The direct stimulus effect of this increase would be substantial, and would create or support over 1,500 full-time jobs in Connecticut over the course of the phase-in of a minimum wage increase.

Margot Dorfman, CEO of the U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce, testified that raising Connecticut’s minimum wage would help the state’s small businesses and the economy. “The business owners whom I talk with every day believe that, far from hurting their business, raising the minimum wage in fact helps small businesses compete with big corporations that exploit their workers with low wages,” said Dorfman, who represents half a million members. She also emphasized that higher wages can be absorbed by greater returns in investment. “Higher wages for frontline employees means lower turnover and training costs and higher productivity for our businesses,” said Dorfman.
 

University of Massachusetts economist Dr. Arindrajit Dube detailed two groundbreaking studies that he and his colleagues recently published which have significantly expanded upon two decades of research showing increases in the minimum wage raise incomes without causing job loss. “We examined employment patterns in more than 300 pairs of neighboring counties in the U.S. that had different minimum wage rates between 1990 and 2006, and found no difference in job growth rates in the neighboring counties despite the different minimum wages,” said Dube. “There is a strong economic case for raising the minimum wage."

Paul Sonn, legal co-director at the National Employment Law Project, emphasized that the minimum wage increase was an effort to restore a minimum wage that has been eroded by inflation over the past forty years. “If the minimum wage had kept up with inflation since the late 1960s, it would be more than $10.40 today,” said Sonn. “Four decades ago, businesses paid a significantly higher minimum wage, businesses grew, and the American middle class was strong,” said Sonn.

The Connecticut proposal adds to a wave of action on the minimum wage this year.  Last week, the New Jersey Assembly Labor Committee approved a bill to raise the state minimum wage and index it to inflation. Last month, the Delaware Senate passed a bill to raise their state minimum wage, and New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver introduced legislation to raise the New York minimum wage and then index it to inflation. Similar proposals are pending in Illinois, Massachusetts, Missouri, California and Hawaii. During the 2008 campaign, President Obama called for raising the minimum wage to $9.50 by 2011 and then indexing it to inflation.

Leaders across the political spectrum are calling for action on the minimum wage conveying broad support for raising wages to promote economic recovery.  Last month, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg called for raising New York’s minimum wage, former Governor Mitt Romney stated his support for indexing the minimum wage to inflation, and Crain’s New York Business, a leading business publication, endorsed New York’s bill to raise the minimum wage

Raising the minimum wage draws support from all income groups and political parties, including majorities of Democrats, Independents, and Republicans. Recentpolling found that two-thirds of Americans – a bipartisan majority – support raising the minimum wage to $10 and then indexing it to inflation to keep up with the rising cost of living.

The minimum wage is becoming more and more important for the nation’s economy, as job growth is strongest in low-wage industries.  At $8.25 per hour, a full-time minimum wage worker in Connecticut earns just $17,160 a year. The bill under consideration would raise Connecticut’s minimum wage by $1.50 to $9.75 per hour in two steps over the next eighteen months.  Starting in July 2013, the minimum wage would then be adjusted each year to keep pace with the rising cost of living.

The National Employment Law Project is a non-partisan, not-for-profit organization that conducts research and advocates on issues affecting low-wage and unemployed workers. For more about NELP, visit www.nelp.org.

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The FactsThe Facts

$10.74

How much the federal minimum wage would be if it had kept up with inflation over the past 40 years. Instead, itís $7.25. Learn More

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