Late Wednesday night, the Connecticut General Assembly passed a bill to raise the state’s minimum wage to $10.10 an hour by 2017, passing 87 to 54 in the House and 21 to 14 in the Senate. Gov. Dannel Malloy (D) says he will sign it into law on Thursday.
That will not only make Connecticut the state with the highest minimum wage, but will also make it the first to pass a wage at the level currently being pushed by President Obama and Congressional Democrats. It will raise pay for 227,000 workers in the state, about 15 percent of its workforce.
That wage level has caught on across the country, however, with a number of other states considering the same increase. Maryland’s House passed a bill that would raise its wage to $10.10 an hour earlier this month, and the Senate is expected to take it up in the next week, according to the National Employment Law Project. Final legislation to raise Hawaii’s wage to at least $10 an hour is expected to pass the legislature in April. Five other states have considered a $10.10 wage and four are looking at $10.
If implemented nationally, a $10.10 minimum wage would put it in line with where it would be if it had kept up with inflation since the 1960s, although far behind the increases in workers’ productivity since then. It would also lift nearly 5 million people out of poverty, close the gender wage gap by 5 percent, and reduce spending on public programs by tens of billions of dollars. There is also real world and academic evidence to suggest that it won’t hurt job growth and could benefit the economy.
All told, 29 states besides Connecticut and Washington, D.C. have considered either legislation or ballot initiatives aimed at raising the minimum wage. Delaware was the first to pass a measure this year, raising its wage to $8.25.