August 2008

The State of Working Connecticut, 2008: Wage Trends

Joachim Hero, M.P.H., Douglas Hall, Ph.D., and Shelley Geballe, J.D., M.P.H.

While real (inflation-adjusted) wages for most Connecticut workers improved between 2006 and 2007, their wages remain lower than they were earlier in the decade. Indeed, as Connecticut heads into a recession that some economists consider the worst since the great Depression and as families struggle to cope with sharply rising food and energy costs, the real wages of many Connecticut workers are actually less than they were going into the last recession in 2000.

Connecticut's median hourly wage in 2007 was up 1.4% from 2006, with increases at all wage levels. Despite this recent growth, earners across the wage spectrum earned less in real (inflation-adjusted) wages than they did in 2003.

Connecticut's cost of living is the second highest in the continental U.S. This cost of living has damaged the buying power and economic security of Connecticut families. The state's median wage workers have the highest wages in the nation. However, if their wages are adjusted using a state-by-state cost of living index, the report finds that the ranking of Connecticut's average workers falls to 36th highest in the continental U.S.

To address these wage trends and the challenges of the new recession, Connecticut Voices for Children is calling for a stepped-up investment in supports for the state's lower-wage working families, including assistance with reducing energy consumption, increased education funding, and supports for low-wage and unemployed workers.

Issue Area:
Family Economic Security