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Report Says $19.44 An Hour Is A Living Wage For a Single Adult

by Hugh McQuaid | Dec 4, 2013 12:52pm
(24) Comments | Commenting has expired
Posted to: Jobs

Melissa Bailey File Photo

Hundreds of job seekers wait in September for an interview at Little Caesars Pizza in New Haven

Most Connecticut job openings pay less than a “living wage,” according to an annual report by the Alliance for a Just Society, which also suggested that there are dozens of job seekers for every opening.

The report, released Tuesday by the Connecticut Citizen Action Group, defines a living wage based on the size of a household.

For instance, the alliance considers $19.44 an hour at 40 hours a week to be a living wage for a single adult. For this group, the report suggests that 49 percent of all openings are paying less than living wages. Meanwhile, $24.12 an hour is considered livable for a two-income family with two kids. In this group, the study indicated that 79 percent of all openings are paying less than living wage rates.

By these standards, Connecticut job seekers are facing stiff competition for positions paying a living wage. The report suggests that there are 25 single job seekers for every living wage opening. For households with two adults and two children, there are 61 seekers for every opening.

“Too many workers in Connecticut earn poverty-level wages that leave them without the means to provide for themselves and their families,” researchers wrote.

The report credits Connecticut with having one of the highest minimum wage rates in the country. The wage is scheduled to increase under legislation passed this year. The report suggests the state should do more to increase wages and invest in higher education support programs and initiatives to help residents pay off student loan debt.

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(24) Comments

posted by: shocked | December 4, 2013  2:37pm

Please explain the following:
Invest in Wages

Too many workers in Connecticut earn poverty-level wages that leave them without the means to provide for themselves and their families..  How do wages leave you without means?  I am pretty wages the causality here are wrong.

Also, if someone only works 24hours per week, why shouldn’t they have the time to work a second job? 4.5hrs per weekday and you are done? You are owed/guaranteed something for the other 144 hours in the week?

I understand you need filler but just parroting a propaganda piece is pretty bad.

posted by: artythesmarty | December 4, 2013  5:22pm

I guess it is much better to be working for govt.  I had a period of joblessness and even with 25 yrs in IT and masters I was offerred temp jobs at 22 bucks/hr.  A trash collector in my town starts at more than that esp including benefits.

posted by: StanMuzyk | December 4, 2013  8:44pm

The sad point gained in this failure of many residents to earn a living wage in Connecticut is that more people then qualify for state welfare benefits.

posted by: Art Vandelay | December 5, 2013  10:09am

If you want a “living wage” stay in school and get an education.  Don’t expect something for nothing.  People get out of life what they put into it.

posted by: robn | December 5, 2013  10:24am

The cost-of-living estimates look reasonable but I did the math and the divisor is a 40 hour work week. Who works only 40 hours?

posted by: chippy | December 5, 2013  11:54am


Unless you’re pulling all-nighters, then I know you’re not working 40 hours/week. Your far too busy posting on the Independent! LMAO

posted by: robn | December 5, 2013  12:10pm


Unlike many people, I can walk and chew gum at the same time.

posted by: ASTANVET | December 5, 2013  1:00pm

“Living wage” - How are wages calculated? Wages are performance credits for goods or services provided, they are derived from the contribution to the market share or demand for the good or service.  To artificially impose a high “minimum” wage would be to disregard the purpose of work.  So, at 19.44 an hour, a mcdonald’s (high school student) employee should earn the same as an entry police officer, or a fire fighter?  They are the same as an accountant, or machinist?  How does this effect the rest of the wages of skilled and unskilled labor, because you know that the Unions will bargain for more “benefits” for their members than the average joe making $19 an hour. What will this do to youth employment rates as they will be in competition with experienced adults for the same jobs?  What will this do to unemployment numbers?  What will happen to wages as people gain more experience and training?  Folks that advocate for this kind of nonsense have no rational basis for how you construct wages, how you remain competitive as a business, what high wages do to prices of all services and products.  This is fantasy land.

posted by: robn | December 5, 2013  2:00pm


The cost-of-living calc doesn’t look wrong to me.

posted by: ASTANVET | December 5, 2013  3:30pm

Robn - not questioning their math as much as their philosophy.  You can’t artificially raise peoples wages without raising the price of the goods or services they are “working” for.  When we do that, it will be a massive inflation bubble on wages goods and services…so the inequities will still exist, just with more zeros.

posted by: ASTANVET | December 5, 2013  3:37pm

speaking of inequities - where is it said that all people should have equal outcomes?  I pulled myself out of poverty - made good and bad decisions along the way - I don’t begrudge the person who was born into privilige because I hope to pass along my successes to my kids, and for them to pass theirs along to my grandkids.  All this snivelling about inequality - Work hard, don’t whine when someone has it easier, or rejoice when someone has it harder… do the best you can and work to be the best at whatever you are doing.  Life is not that hard, just don’t look for a scapegoat.  If’ you’re a Janitor, be the best Damned Janitor you can be and good things will happen.  If you’re a Policeman be the best damned policeman you can be… this minimum wage/living wage stuff is hogwash.

posted by: robn | December 5, 2013  4:33pm


At a certain point I agree with you; some of the New Haven unions have created what looks like a Ponzi scheme; because of the limited tax base, their compensation/pension packages are tenuously attainable for a very small number of people.
However, a reasonable minimum wage seems reasonable and you could look at it from an enlightened self interest POV; a decently compensated workforce means fewer safety net costs (especially catastrophic medical which often leads to bankruptcy and homelessness).

posted by: Matt W. | December 5, 2013  5:34pm

Matt W.

At the outset I’ll say that I’m not 100% against some min wage. However, as with all gov’t intervention into markets, it is well intentioned and looks like a good idea on its face but we rarely, if ever know, or consider, the true consequences before acting (insert any Obamacare example here).  Robn you raise a good point and on its face it looks appealing higher wages = fewer safety net expenses but you’re not following through on your analysis.  For the people who have min wage jobs your statement is likely true. However, if a biz has $100/hour to spend on labor it has 2 choices: raise prices or cut labor. Both can be expected. 

You will also see a distinct drawback in hiring the young and inexperienced b/c as ASTANVET alluded to, no one wants to pay someone $19/hr if they have to train and take care of them.  What is currently the largest demographic of unemployed people?  Young black males.  Do we really believe this will help them?  I don’t think so. I think you’ll see some min wage folks lose their current jobs and others, particularly the young, find it very difficult to secure one of these jobs.  So are you really going to spend less on the safety net?  Looking at it from the other side, does raising the min wage really mean that there’s more money available to pay the existing employees and continue hiring at the same (currently anemic) pace?  No, it does not.  There is a fixed amount of money available to pay wages unless you can generate additional economic activity.  There may be a time to raise the min wage but the middle of this pathetic recovery is not it. 

You really want to help these people?  Provide daycare. Let them work.  The single mother is a huge resource that we have yet to account for b/c we simply haven’t adjusted (or admitted to) the fact that our demographics have shifted dramatically.  Free them up to work and get them out of the safety net.

posted by: jim1 | December 5, 2013  5:58pm

I believe in a living wage not a minimum wage.  Why is it the dirtiest,  most dangerous jobs get the least pay?

Remember the CEO’s over all those “little workers” make millions PER year.

But the argument over wages is moot when there are no jobs.  Anywhere.

Art Vandelay, there are plenty of Ph.D.‘s scrounging for pitiful pay jobs.  The asset of higher ed myth is just that—a myth.  What planet do you live on?

posted by: chippy | December 5, 2013  7:44pm


I left my first comment just before I left for work. I just got home from a 6-hour shift that seemed plenty long enough. Not once during work did I have the chance to read an article online much less leave a comment. Most people have similar jobs where they don’t have time to go online and read and comment on the news all day. My guess is that if you had a gig like that, you would think 40 hours/week was plenty. On the contrary, if you work for yourself (that’s my guess) then you probably like to work more than 40 hour/week. Good for you! But don’t try to compare hourly wage-earners with those who are self-employed. Our work days are much more structured, with greater supervision and less time to just enjoy life. That’s why 40 hours/week is more than enough for us.

posted by: ASTANVET | December 5, 2013  8:33pm

JIM1 - CEO’s bring more to the market place, the business is making a hedge that the leadership from a particular CEO (think Bill Gates/Steve Jobs/Lee Iacocca) will have a measured impact on performance, which means BILLIONS of more revenue to pay for all those other jobs.  CEO’s are not the same with respect to performance of a business than a janitor.  Which is not to say they are better, but they have skills that bring different variables to the market.  A well compensated work force is necessary to keep productivity up, and again make profit… in the public sector there is no profit to be had, so compensation is out of whack with productivity and production, which is why a clerk at UCONN can make 60K a year while their private sector counterpart is substantially less.

Robn -  I don’t know about that thought process - if you inflate wages you will have less abuse of the safety net.  What is the count per capita of people on Social Security Disability in cities vs. rural areas?  off the charts… there is a culture we created that facilitates those people to make more compensation by being on state assistance than by working. To me the answer to me isn’t paying everyone more, it is reducing the compensation for no productivity.  Is working at minimum wage difficult, yep – been there.  I just don’t like making all costs higher just to put a higher minimum wage - why cap it at $19, why not guarantee 50K a year for every citizen in the US?  Why not 100K… we all know it wouldn’t work…so what makes you think this graduated idea would have any different results?  Interesting discussion though… thank you for being polite!

posted by: StanMuzyk | December 5, 2013  8:44pm

If employer’s like McDonald’s, Burger King and Wendy’s, and Dollar Stores—had to pay their employee’s a living wage—they would be out of business.
Also, higher hourly rates forces lay-off’s and less people working at lower-tier-pay-jobs. When you win some—you lose some.

posted by: JH_1 | December 6, 2013  9:38am

If you want to earn more, learn more.

There are a lot of grants / financial aid available to help people with lower income make secondary education more affordable.  Doesn’t have to be four year college.  Trade schools, specialty programs, etc. could earn someone a much higher wage.

Just need to be determined.  A friend’s wife is in nursing school (part-time).  Half the people in her class have full time jobs and kids and they still make it work.

posted by: JH_1 | December 6, 2013  9:49am

You can’t compare a CEO’s compensation to the one’s that make a lot less.  A CEO that makes millions per year has a primary responsibility to maximize shareholder value.  Their compensation is driven by achieving that goal.  They do that by innovating new ideas, bringing them to market, managing multi million/billion dollar expense budgets.  A lot more skill and knowledge goes into running a multi million or multi billion dollar company than goes into serving fast food or stocking shelves.

I’m not knocking those jobs, but I’m simply making the point that you have to put it in the right context before comparing how much CEO’s and other senior executives make to those making minumum wage.

posted by: gutbomb86 | December 6, 2013  10:42am


McDonalds netted a $5.5 billion profit last year on revenue of $27 billion. The company could very easily improve wages across the board without raising prices. They are a terrible company for failing to do so. I certainly would not recommend that they raise prices on the awful “food” they’re selling, either. No one would buy it because there are too many better choices available.

But for some reason, people seem to think they can’t increase wages without catastrophic price increases, and - mathematically speaking with $5.5 billion net profits at the corporate level - there’s no real case to support that.

Let’s also not forget that it’s a collection of franchises, so the wage decisions are made locally by franchise owners who have to fork over X amount of their revenue to the mothership ... so IF the mothership demanded a little less under the guise of giving a p**p about workers, the franchise owners could pay more. Better yet, the company could return a big chunk of money to those franchise owners each year for the purpose of employee bonuses. That’s how a lot of companies operate to keep monthly costs down - they bonus people when revenue is up and workers are motivated by it.

Yes, we live in a market economy but there’s room within that market to pay a better wage. I’m not suggesting that just any unmotivated, inefficient worker should earn $19.44 an hour as an entry-level employee, nor am I suggesting that there should not be entry-level wage jobs. But new businesses that work on low margins certainly need wage flexibility to get themselves started. The minimum wage probably could a little higher. But if you crank it up to $19.44 across the U.S., where regional economies differ drastically, you’ll just create havoc and businesses will close out of spite. The minimum wage is a worker protection tool that has done amazing good in our country - but it also can be used to push low-margin companies out of business. There’s a happy medium that works for everyone ... some of the people who sign paychecks CAN and SHOULD do a lot better. Same goes for some of the people who work for a paycheck.

What could go wrong for everyone? Using the McDonalds example, that company could easily automate a lot of those jobs for less than $19.44 per hour. Easily. They’ve already got far more automation in place in their distribution system than is humane to the animals they use to create the product. That’s another issue as well - inhumane production behind the scenes that the customers are insulated from. If the customers saw how the animals were treated, they wouldn’t eat the food.

Regardless of that issue, the fast food industry - at least McDonalds with $5.5 billion net profit last year alone - can and should do a lot better by its employees.

posted by: StanMuzyk | December 6, 2013  11:57am

Walmart is a leading distributor of China-made imports—and the fact that China has financial control over our country due to our massive indebtedness to this country—Walmart has a comfort monopoly with their large presence in our business world— in which they do not have to compete with minority higher-paying stores.

posted by: Matt W. | December 6, 2013  12:00pm

Matt W.

In other words, McDonalds put a little over 80% of their earnings back into the economy last year. Not bad.

posted by: justsayin | December 6, 2013  12:31pm

The state can not do more to increase wages they do not create jobs! Also, if people have completed “higher education” and need help paying off their loans, does this mean higher ed does not mean higher pay or a job?

posted by: ABC | December 6, 2013  4:31pm

Gutbomb - Help me understand your thinking.

Do you have a public pension or a retirement plan of some sort?  Lots of people do.  Chances are that your pension plan invests in McDonalds.  So what would happen to the return on your plan if McDonalds decided to become far less profitable by unilaterally paying workers more?  Would you agree that the return on McDonalds stock would go down?
And would you agree that because you pay your pension plan managers to maximize financial returns on your pension plan that there would be a good chance that they would choose to divest your retirement funds from McDonalds and look for better financial returns elsewhere?
And would you agree that if McDonalds lost its ability to attract your capital, that the company would be unable to grow, begin to shrink, start to produce inferior food product, eventually lose out to competition, and ultimately disappear? 
So what happens to all the workers?