Gov. Ned Lamont signed a bill last May to increase Connecticut’s minimum wage over the next four years, raising wages for the state’s 330,000 workers who earn the current minimum wage of $10.10 per hour.
Almost one-third of Connecticut workers will see an annual increase in wages until the $15 minimum wage is reached on Oct. 15, 2023. This will give people a great boost in pay, said Christine Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project.
However, University of Connecticut economics professor Fred Carstensen said the wage increase does not guarantee workers will be able to keep the hours they currently work, which he said is more important than how much they are paid per hour.
“What I expect to happen across the states that are making this change is that people are going to get fewer hours,” Carstensen said. “It is not clear that this change will increase aggregate household income, which is really what they’re trying to drive.”
In Carstensen’s opinion, the minimum wage law is a state-level issue that needed more thought.
“What I’m struck by is that the minimum wage issue does not seem to be addressed within a broader context of how labor markets function and how you can improve the labor market,” Carstensen said. “My sense from the work I have done is that there is no legislative process in Connecticut. It is almost totally incoherent, and the legislature is part-time and has very little staffing.”
The state did not specify how the impact of the minimum wage increase will be tracked, or if any systematic data will be collected at all, Carstensen said, noting that other states have ways of tracking such things.
For example, Carstensen said Wisconsin provides rebates to those who file state income tax. Those income taxes tell the Wisconsin government what its citizens are earning at their jobs, where they’re living and how often they’re moving.
“They pass a $15 minimum wage, and that is okay, but what are you doing to track the impact that this has?” Carstensen said. “Typically, in Connecticut they pass policies but do nothing to track their impact, so we have no idea what is going on, and there’s no way to know how things need to be modified.”
Connecticut’s minimum wage will increase to $11 per hour on Oct. 1; $12 in September 2020; $13 in August 2021; $14 in July 2022 and $15 in June 2023, according to Gov. Ned Lamont’s office. The Connecticut Department of Labor and Connecticut Voices for Children estimate those increases will raise wages for approximately 130,000 workers this year and more than 500,000 by 2024.
Naiela Suleiman is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at email@example.com.