February 2012

Raising and Indexing Connecticut's Minimum Wage: Making Work Pay for All, for Good

Matt Santacroce and Wade Gibson, J.D.

This report finds that, after adjusting for inflation, Connecticut's minimum wage workers have seen their wage decline in recent decades, while middle- and upper-income workers have experienced wage increases.

  • Connecticut's minimum wage has fallen relative to the middle and upper tiers of the wage scale and has failed to keep pace with inflation. After adjusting for inflation, the minimum wage has fallen 9 percent since 1979, while the median wage has increased 21 percent and those in the top 10 percent enjoyed a 46 percent increase. A failure to keep pace with inflation means that the minimum wage buys less now than it did 50 years ago.
  • Increasing the minimum wage would stimulate the state's economy and create jobs. According to a new analysis by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), a two-stage, $1.50 per hour increase would create or support more than 1,500 jobs in Connecticut by injecting dollars and boosting demand in the communities where these workers live.
  • A minimum wage increase would improve wages for workers in growing sectors of the Connecticut economy. The Connecticut Department of Labor projects that the three occupations projected to have the most job openings between 2008 and 2018 -- cashiers, waiters and waitresses, and retail salespersons -- are also the most likely to pay at or near minimum wage. The 10 largest occupations in which at least a quarter of workers earn wages below $9.75 per hour account for a third (34%) of the state's workforce and many are among the fastest growing job sectors in the state.
  • Contrary to some common misperceptions, most of the 226,000 workers that would benefit from the minimum wage increase are adults who work more than half-time. According to an analysis by the EPI, 82 percent of the low-wage workers whose wages would improve directly or indirectly as a result of the minimum wage increase (one in seven Connecticut workers) are aged 20 or older, and 74 percent work at least 20 hours/week.

 

Issue Area:
Family Economic Security