President Obama came to Connecticut March 5 to boost his proposal to increase the minimum wage to $10.10/hour. It was heartening to see the President speak passionately at Central Connecticut State University in New Britain about his “common sense” proposal to ensure that someone working full-time won’t earn wages below the poverty line.
President Obama was joined by Governor Dannel Malloy and three other New England governors who are proposing to raise state minimum wages. While the federal proposal faces an uphill battle in Congress (despite support from 71% of the public nationally), the state efforts in Connecticut and nearby states have a much better chance to become law.
Governor Malloy proposes to raise Connecticut’s minimum wage, which rose to $8.70/hour January 1 and rises to $9.00 in 2015, to $10.10 by 2017. Nationally, the minimum wage is stuck at $7.25. Even an increase to $10.10 per hour would only bring the minimum wage to the buying power it had in the late 1960s. Still, this is an important step in the right direction.
There is some concern, including a recent Congressional Budget Office report that an increase to $10.10 nationally could result in the loss of 500,000 jobs nationally. That report shows 16.5 million workers would benefit from an increase in wages, and bring 900,000 people above the poverty line. Despite the CBO report, most economists think that increasing the minimum wage has no discernable impact on jobs, as noted in this blog post by Doug Hall of EPI.
At CAHS, we’re particularly excited that Governor Malloy and the General Assembly are leading the way—combined with creation of a state EITC, paid sick days, moves toward universal access to pre-K, and post-secondary education proposals—to create a “two generation strategy” that boosts education and employment for low-income children and families. These are the policies Connecticut needs to reduce poverty and create a sustainable, long-term future that benefits all residents.