Gov. Ned Lamont and Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz held a press conference in Willimantic to announce the first automatic increase of Connecticut’s minimum wage after the wage reached $15 per hour in June of this year.

Bysiewicz announced that under the minimum wage law passed in 2019, Connecticut’s minimum wage rises automatically each year in line with the employment cost index, a measure of inflation. The indexing of the minimum wage means the state’s minimum wage will rise to $15.69 per hour in January of 2024, making Connecticut one of the states with the highest minimum wages in the country.

“In January [June] of this year, we made the fifth and final increase before the minimum wage is indexed to the employment cost index, increasing Connecticut’s minimum wage,” Bysiewicz said. “And that increase will go from fifteen dollars an hour to fifteen dollars and sixty-nine cents. Ladies and gentlemen, that is the applause line.”

“This is a fair and gradual increase for workers that ensure that as our economy grows, the minimum wage grows with it and that’s good for everyone,” Bysiewicz said, noting that “women and people of color tend to be our minimum wage workers.”

Bysiewicz said they believe the increase will affect 10 percent of Connecticut workers – 163,151 employees. Many employers have begun paying higher rates as they scramble for employees in the post-pandemic economy.

Connecticut’s minimum wage law with the automatic increases was passed in 2019 following an all-night marathon debate in the House of Representatives as Republicans tried to push back against the change that brought the state’s minimum wage from $10.10 per hour to $15 over the course of four years.

Sen. Mae Flexer, D-Windham, said the automatic increases mean there won’t be years-long political battles to raise the minimum wage, as there have been in the past. 

“To have the vision to not have this kind of increase be part of a political process that took two, three, four, five years to actually become a reality, but is now automatic, that took real vision,” Flexer said. “Here in the state of Connecticut we’re going to recognize how the cost of living is continuing to increase and families who work so hard to take care of themselves and keep a roof over their head won’t have to come to the state capital to fight for the increase they’ve earned.”

The addition of the automatic increases tied to an inflationary measure used by the Department of Labor m(DOL) is meant to help those earning the minimum wage keep up with inflation, which proved remarkably high over the course of 2022 and 2023. In prior years, inflation rose, but minimum wage adjustments were few and far between, not keeping pace.

This year’s employment cost index, measured from July 1, 2022, to June 30, 2023 was 4.6 percent, resulting in the 69-cent increase. The consumer price index, a more commonly referenced inflation measurement, was up 3 percent during that same time period, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Lamont said he got “hit hard” by lobbyists in 2019 arguing that the increased minimum wage will hurt businesses and decrease employment but said the latest job numbers from Connecticut’s Department of Labor show Connecticut has now recovered all the jobs lost during the pandemic.

Lamont said the minimum wage increase will also create upward pressure on wages higher up the income spectrum, including middle-class families.

“It’s raising up a lot of wages right now, it’s making life a little more affordable in this amazing state. This is on top of working with our friends in the legislature, we got an income tax cut,” Lamont said, referring to the most recently passed budget which lowered the income tax on middle- and working-class families.

Lamont and Bysiewicz also noted the 33 percent increase in the Earned Income Tax Credit, which will also put more money back into the pocket of low-wage workers. “I think work should pay, I think work in this great state of Connecticut should pay,” Lamont said.

“There are fewer people today earning the minimum wage than before, that’s a good thing,” Lamont said. “This is a big deal, it’s going to make a difference.”

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Marc worked as an investigative reporter for Yankee Institute and was a 2014 Robert Novak Journalism Fellow. He previously worked in the field of mental health is the author of several books and novels,...

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1 Comment

  1. This is my prediction. The increase will affect every employer. Prices of food at restaurants and markets will go up. Fewer people will go out to eat and make belt tightening decisions. The increase will impact the current inflation rate. It’s going to hit peoples wallets and seriously affect spending decisions of all citizens. Thank you politicians for working against us and not for us.

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