On Jan. 1, Connecticut's minimum wage will go up from $8.25 to $8.70. At a press conference on Monday, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy noted that this is the first of two scheduled increases in the state’s minimum wage. A second increase will follow on Jan. 1, 2015, bringing the state's minimum wage up to $9 per hour.
The increases are the result of a new law that the governor signed earlier this year that put Connecticut's minimum wage well ahead of the federal minimum of $7.25 an hour or $15,080 a year.
“This gradual increase over two years is a balanced approach to helping hard working men and women without adversely impacting the business community,” Malloy said in a press statement. “Studies have shown that increasing the minimum wage is one of the best ways to get children out of poverty. This modest increase is money that will be put back into our economy and help residents to make ends meet.”
Currently, an estimated 70,000 to 90,000 people out of Connecticut’s total workforce of 1.7 million earn the minimum wage. Under the current rate of $8.25 an hour, an employee working 40 hours a week earns $17,160 per year. As of Jan. 1, 2014, a Connecticut resident working full time at minimum wage will make $18,096 a year.
“To truly achieve renewed prosperity as a state, we need all levels of workers to participate in the economic recovery,” Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman said in a press statement. “These increases represent small but significant steps forward for tens of thousands of Connecticut workers trying to provide for themselves and their families.”
Connecticut is one of 13 states that will be raising their minimum wage as of Jan. 1. According to the National Employment Law Report, as many as 11 states and Washington D.C. are also considering acting on proposals to raise the minimum wage in 2014.
Here's what other legislators had to say at today's press conference:
Senate President Donald E. Williams, Jr. (D-Brooklyn): “As the gap between the wealthiest Americans and the average employee increases, paying workers a fair minimum wage will help them keep food on their table and provide for their families. Raising the minimum wage is an investment in our workforce and a much needed boost for hard-working men and women.”
Speaker of the House Brendan Sharkey (D-Hamden): “This increase in the minimum wage will give thousands of low-income working families across Connecticut a small raise in the new year, which is long overdue. Raising the minimum wage is good for our economy, helps people, and is the right thing to do.”
Senate Majority Leader Martin M. Looney (D-New Haven): “Our country has always been committed to the idea that the United States is at its best when it has a robust and growing middle class. By raising the minimum wage, we can make it just a little bit easier for working families to make ends meet.”
House Majority Leader Joe Aresimowicz (D-Berlin, Southington): “This small increase will make a real difference in the lives of the 100,000 Connecticut residents that earn minimum wage. Raising the minimum wage isn't just good for workers — it’s good for business too. A higher minimum wage would inject dollars our economy as folks spend increased earnings at local businesses.”
State Senator Cathy Osten (D-Sprague), co-chair of the Labor and Public Employees Committee: “This is a well-needed benefit for people who are now just surviving on the minimum wage, and it starts the process of getting them to a point where they can help support a family.”
State Representative Peter Tercyak (D-New Britain), co-chair of the Labor and Public Employees Committee: “This is money that’s all going to be spent locally. None of it will go to investments or savings yet. This is starting at the lower end of our economy, and this money will be earned and spent, passing through hand after hand, before it reaches the wealthy.”