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OP-ED | Connecticut Should Not Increase its Minimum Wage Again

by Suzanne Bates | Feb 28, 2014 9:00am
(20) Comments | Commenting has expired
Posted to: Economics, Opinion

When Gov. Dannel P. Malloy grabbed the microphone away from Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal the other day to defend President Obama’s proposed minimum wage hike, liberals across the country swooned.

Raising the minimum wage is a policy that plays particularly well among the Democratic base, but if we want to help the poor in Connecticut we should not support another hike in the minimum wage.

When Gov. Jindal criticized President Obama for encouraging a “minimum wage economy,” Malloy stepped up to the mic and called Jindal’s comments “insane.” Sounds like our governor.

What is insane is raising our minimum wage at a time when the state’s economy is performing tepidly at best, when our cost of living is sky-high, and when our state already has a reputation for having a hostile business climate.

President Obama wants the federal minimum wage upped to $10.10 an hour from $7.25 an hour — something that is unlikely to happen while Republicans control the House.

Meanwhile, here in Connecticut, lawmakers currently have a bill on the table that would raise the state’s minimum wage from $8.70 an hour to $10.10 an hour by 2017. Under legislation passed last year, it is already scheduled to increase to $9 an hour next year.

Our neighbors in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island have minimum wages that range from $7.25 to $8 an hour.

I don’t believe that this is simply a ploy for votes. I think most Democrats really do believe this will help the poor, but I also think most of them are aware that this move has the potential to do real harm to the state’s economy, making this a truly irresponsible bill.

And will it really help the working poor? Not likely. Many minimum-wage earners are young, and those who aren’t receive government benefits that offset their low incomes — benefits that may decrease as their wages increase.

In response to a proposed federal minimum wage hike, the bipartisan Congressional Budget Office released a report cautioning that an increase would lead to job losses. Here in Connecticut, job losses would likely hurt the working poor first.

An increase could also perpetuate the idea that Connecticut is a bad place to do business.

In testimony last week, the Connecticut Business and Industry Association asked lawmakers not to raise the minimum wage again, warning it would further erode business confidence in the state and lead to price inflation and job losses.

In his testimony, Andy Markowski of the National Federation of Independent Businesses, warned that another minimum wage hike would especially hurt small businesses in the state.  Latino business owners also recently expressed their reservations about the proposed increase.

Are more job losses something we want to risk here in Connecticut?

Gov. Malloy keeps saying the number of jobs in the state has increased since he took office, but the numbers tell a different story. In the years since he was elected, the number of people working in the state has dropped by 65,000.

Another minimum wage increase could speed job losses, and likely will lead to a rise in prices, pushing the cost of living here even higher. That is a real threat to poor and middle-class families. 

It could also speed up the automation of low-wage jobs. It isn’t hard to imagine using a computer screen to order a meal in the drive-thru lane instead of talking to a person.

Democrats have the power to make this happen, and with Gov. Malloy basking in the national spotlight this week, the pressure to make it happen may be on the rise, despite all of the warning signs that have been raised.

We have some real problems in Connecticut related to poverty, and we all — left and right — need to be looking for solutions. But this isn’t the right solution.

We know, for instance, that if people get a high school diploma, work full time, and wait until they are 21 and married to have children, they have only a 2 percent chance of being poor.

Maybe when President Obama visits the state next week, he — and the media accompanying him — should take some time to visit our cities to see the effects of the liberal economic policies passed by our state legislature and local city leaders.

Three of our cities — Bridgeport, New Haven and Hartford — are ranked as some of the most dangerous in the nation. Our wage gap between the richest and the poorest is one of the highest in the nation.

This is in one of the bluest states around. When are liberals going to admit that their economic policies are failing not just the poor, but all of us?

Suzanne Bates is a writer living in South Windsor with her family. While traveling across the country as an Air Force spouse, she worked for news organizations including the Associated Press, New Hampshire Union Leader and Good Morning America Weekend. She recently completed a research fellowship at the Yankee Institute. Follow her on Twitter @suzebates.

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(20) Comments

posted by: jim black | February 28, 2014  10:14am

Malloy can’t think on his own. He just wants attention from Barry. When he looses in November he will be looking for another job on the public dime.

posted by: art vandelay | February 28, 2014  10:43am

art vandelay

I couldn’t agree more. Another major factor Suzanne failed to mention is the fact that many union contracts and wages are directly connected to the minimum wage. Raising the minimum wage is not about raising the standard of living for the working poor.  It’s all about lining the pockets of highly paid union workers in our state and country.

posted by: Historian | February 28, 2014  11:15am

Gee - I did not understand that non liberals were allowed to write columns on Junkie - if the price offered gathers buyers, or in this case employees - that means it is satisfying economic law - of supply and demand and we always find people behind the McDonalds counters taking our orders.
  If you want to raise these people’s wages - without all the hassle of politics - all you have to do is reduce the oversupply of labor that is willing to work for the current “low wage”.. Iron law of supply and demand again.. 
  Oh! that means we have to talk and argue about emigration and the real damage illegal border crossing does to our society - our Legitimate society - our Legal society. 
  But then liberals would have less to weep and whine about..

posted by: shocked | February 28, 2014  12:15pm

Let’s not let logic get in the way of politics. 

What is missing from this debate is a simple question, did the employer and employee enter into a legitimate arms-length agreement.  If so, why is the state involved.

posted by: justsayin | February 28, 2014  12:20pm

Finally some sanity from the op-ed crowd. Great article.

posted by: Joebigjoe | February 28, 2014  12:59pm

Nailed it Suzanne, nailed it, nailed it, nailed it.

posted by: ABC | February 28, 2014  5:33pm

How cruel and inhumane can the author and the commenters be?  Does anyone have an inkling what is costs the average family to live around here? 

Raising the minimum wage is like spitting in the ocean! Instead, why don’t we just seek economic justice another way? 

Lets set a minimum INCOME for a family based on how many famiy members there are. 

And we would fund the program by taxing everyone the surplus of their income over the minimum. 

So lets say that the average family of four needs $75K to enjoy the economic justice to which they are entitled.  If they only make $50K, they GET $25K from the government.  If they make $100K, they GIVE $25 to the government.  Everyone has economic justice!

A lawyer with a family, who makes $200K would pay $125K in taxes but get to keep $75K because, yes, even lawyers deserve economic justice.

We all need to get behind this idea. And because they have been so supportive of economic justice in the past, I am sure that Obama supporters like Hollywood stars, network media figures, MSNBC anchors, tenured college profs, and university presidents all would get on the economic justice bandwagon.

Whose with me??!

posted by: Joebigjoe | February 28, 2014  5:56pm

Uhhhhh not me!!

Economic Justice? Is that like being a community organizer or something?

Too expensive then move. Thats a decision alot of us who do well would like to make as well or will have to make so not being snide but just stating reality.

If the state is too expensive and the politicians dont care and you cant change the politicians to those that will, then you dont screw over the small business owner who busted their tail to create the job in the first place. You leave.

Economic Justice? There is none and wont be. With what entitlements are that are yet to be paid out there isnt enough money in the entire system. Trust me.

posted by: The Court Jester | February 28, 2014  6:49pm

I think the author is onto something with regard to automation.  The biggest age group making minimum wage is under the age of 25.  These minimum wage jobs tend to be low skill and hopefully gateway jobs which teach things like dependability.  Already there is a trend for jobs like cashier to be very plug and play—just pull someone in off the street and tell them which buttons to push. No need to count back change.  No need to cash out your draw at the end of the night.  The next logical step then would be to automate that process.  Walk into Walgreens, say, or IDK what about Stop N Shop and pick up a bar code reader that you scan items as you shop and then pay at a self service kiosk on the way out…..  Oh wait.  We already have that.  Yep.  Not too far down the pike my friends.

posted by: The Court Jester | February 28, 2014  6:56pm

I think the OP is onto something with automation.  The highest percentage of minimum wage workers are under the age of 25.  Minimum wage jobs tend to be low skill which would hopefully serve as training—a gateway—for a move up the ladder, teaching skills such as dependability.  Already in positions such as cashier the work is plug and play—you pull someone off the street and just point to which buttons to press.  No need to count back change or cash out a draw at night.  It is not too far of a leap to imagine a day when you walk into a store, say Walgreens or maybe, IDK, Stop N Shop, and pick up a handheld code reader which you use to scan items as you shop and then check out at a kiosk on your way out the door.  Oh wait….we already have that.

Yep. Not hard to imagine that day coming at all.

posted by: StanMuzyk | February 28, 2014  9:11pm

Another Obamaism effort is coming to Connecticut—delivered by the master planner. Malloy may think he will gain votes from Obama’s reelection campaign stop—but Democrats in Congress who want to get reelected—are distancing themselves away from Obama.  Obama’s visit may haunt Malloy at the polls on Election Day.

posted by: Fisherman | March 1, 2014  10:07am

ABC… “economic justice to which they are ENTITLED”?

That mentality is the biggest problem in our country (Obama) and our state (Malloy) today.

posted by: Todd Peterson | March 1, 2014  4:16pm

Hallelujah!  Thank you, Suzanne, thank you CTNewsjunkie and thank Zach Janowski and the Yankee Institute for helping mint a blue chip commentator!

Oh, ABC, was that post real or is it some kind of satire?  It honestly sounds like a joke.  BTW, it’s spelled who’s and not whose.

To repeat something I just posted on Susan Bigelow’s latest snooze of a column, the minimum wage discussion is a diversion.  A lot of minimum wage earners aren’t primary breadwinners and aren’t living in poverty.  If you have kids out of wedlock and aren’t educated then you’re setting yourself and your children up for a life of poverty.  If ABC thinks this can be ameliorated by confiscatory tax policies, well, he or she is delusional.  Work in the court system like I do and you’ll see reality.

Automation will accelerate and make low wage jobs obsolete with a higher minimum wage.  That is also a reality.  I remember using touch screens in a fast food franchise during the Weicker years.

The real minimum wage is actually zero.  When college grads can’t find work after graduation then they’re getting minimum wage.  Obamacare mavens are trying to spin the story of job lock and how Obamacare will free them.  The real job lock is not being able to make even a LATERAL move if you’re looking to find a new job to get out of a less than satisfying or financially viable job.  Remember that the best time to look for a job is when you’re currently employed.  When you’re unemployed, then job lock feels like job lockout.

posted by: Stingy Blue | March 2, 2014  9:49am

The comments below remind me of how conservatives manipulated Digg in 2010!  I’m sorry, but “ABC” is simply not a real person, but rather a “straw man” posting.  I do love honest debate here on ctnewsjunkie, but come on, people.

In any event, regardless of whether a minimum wage increase would have an effect on overall employment (a question to which economists disagree), I believe that there is a general consensus among economists that increasing the minimum wage would decrease the number of families living in poverty, which would be a good thing, and would also increase consumer demand, another good thing.  If the author is interested in solutions to poverty, she should instead look to the crippling Reagan-era policies of union busting, unchecked globalization and deregulation.

posted by: StanMuzyk | March 2, 2014  5:55pm

@Fisherman” I credit your recognition of the BAD FISH while ‘Stingy Blue’—swallowed it—“hook,line and sinker” long ago!
Suzanne Bates—I applaud you! YOU TELL THE TRUTH!
Pres. Obama is coming to Connecticut using a phony ploy of a higher minimum wage—when our country really needs 40 million new jobs. He has sold Gov. Malloy—who as a desperate politician—who unfortunately believes everything Obamaism is selling him.

posted by: ASTANVET | March 3, 2014  8:23am

Thank god we have a realist as at least ONE op-ed writer!  Maybe we can get some Austrian Economists to re-locate to CT and run for office.

posted by: Joebigjoe | March 3, 2014  8:41am

Stan, I’m not sure we could even create 40 million jobs even with Dems out of office.

Changing some punishing tax rules that kill investment would help for sure, but other than big breakthroughs in energy I dont see what markets and ideas would create these jobs.

If the idea is technology the labor arbitrage of sending this work offshore is too significant to ignore. If its energy related where the work is done here, the bureaucrats in the EPA and the environmentalists will kill that too.

posted by: Joebigjoe | March 3, 2014  4:05pm

ASTANVET, I absolutely positively guarantee you that 90% of people that vote for a Democrat candidate could not tell you what the Austrian School is. If you told them “no its not a school in Austria” they would say its a charter school somewhere.

posted by: CTSean | March 4, 2014  8:05am

If eliminating the minimum wage altogether would create more jobs would Ms Bates advocate for that? The proposed increase is hardly radical. In fact it will still be lower (adjusted for inflation) Than it was 45 years ago.

posted by: StanMuzyk | March 4, 2014  10:42am

@Joe:  Gov. Malloy’s Pres.
Obama’s push for increased minimum wages will bring no new jobs to Connecticut.  Obama came here to smokescreen his national failure to create jobs—using the minimum wage ploy
to divert attention from our former Community Adviser’s failed job creation leadership.  Unfortunately—our taxpayer’s are paying for Obama’s White House press machine—“so Obama can keep selling us the Brooklyn Bridge at our expense.”