Craig Eisele on …..

March 3, 2012

Connecticut Considering Raising Minimum Wage to $9+ /hour

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mr. Craig @ 9:27 am

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Low-wage workers, economists and others are pushing Connecticut lawmakers to support legislation that would raise the state’s minimum wage during the coming years and eventually tie it to inflation.

The bill, which is being considered by the state’s Labor and Public Employees Committee, would raise the minimum wage to $9 an hour, beginning July 2012, and to $9.75 an hour the following year. The bill requires the minimum wage rate to be tied to inflation beginning in July 2014.

If passed, the bill would raise pay for the nearly 106,000 people currently earning minimum wage inConnecticut — more than 80 percent of them over age 20. The bill also would place Connecticut among the states with the highest minimum wage in the country.

The Labor and Public Employees Committee heard arguments for and against the bill during a Tuesday afternoon public hearing.

Advocates in favor of the legislation say that the current minimum wage — $8.25 an hour or around $17,000 a year for full-time employment — puts the state’s low-wage workers below the poverty line. They also argue that increasing the minimum wage would help put more money back into the economy, because the workers would have more spending cash.

Margot Dorfman, chief executive officer of the U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce, who testified at the hearing, said raising the minimum wage would help level the playing field for women-owned businesses. Dorfman said these businesses, as a whole, tend to pay employees above the minimum wage. She said requiring big-box stores to raise their minimum wage payments would help female-owned businesses compete.

Opponents say, however, that they are concerned the proposed wage increase could discourage employers from hiring new workers, resulting in potential job losses.

Andrew Markowski, the state’s director of the National Federation of Independent Businesses, said raising the minimum wage would be devastating for small business owners under the current economic conditions. He said NFIB members in Connecticut would suffer under the increase as small businesses are still recovering from last year’s tax increases and did not include the raise in their budgets.

“Increasing the minimum wage is a good idea wrapped in bad policy,” he said.

The potential ripple effect associated with increasing the minimum wage and other payroll costs could result in job losses, Markowski said.

Despite Markowski’s claims, Arindrajit Dube, an assistant professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, testified that he and his colleagues conducted two studies on the issue that found moderate minimum wage increases do not result in job loss and that other studies suggesting this use inadequate survey methods.

Dube’s first study compared job growth over 17 years in multiple bordering counties in different states. He said his study is more accurate because it compares two similar job markets in the same geographical location.

Committee Chairs Sen. Edith Prague, D-Columbia, and Rep. Bruce “Zeke” Zalaski, D-Plantsville, have both said they support raising the minimum wage.

Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy told reporters Tuesday that he has not decided whether he will support legislation increasing the minimum wage. He said the results of the earned income tax credit, new system for paid sick days and what surrounding states do on the issue will play a role in his decision.

The current national minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. At least 18 states have set a minimum wage exceeding the national requirement.

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