Report: State's minimum wage falls short
Published 7:38 am, Saturday, April 21, 2012
HARTFORD -- There are five distinct geographic and income sectors in Connecticut, but the minimum wage is inadequate for residents in all of them, according to a survey of basic fiscal security released by the state Permanent Commission on the Status of Women.
The soaring cost of child care prevents many families from building the assets that parents may need to support them in medical emergencies, unemployment and, eventually, retirement, the report said.
Among the survey findings:
In "wealthy" Connecticut towns, including Westport, Easton, Darien, Ridgefield, New Canaan and Greenwich, a family of four with two working parents needs to make $96,432 a year.
Suburbs, including Fairfield, Monroe, Bethel, New Fairfield, Newtown, Orange, Oxford, Redding and Shelton, require joint incomes of $81,168. Rural communities require nearly $73,000 for housing, food, transportation, utilities, child care, health care and other expenses.
In the "urban periphery" of Norwalk,, Danbury, Ansonia, Seymour, Stamford, Stratford and Milford, four-member households need $82,536 to make ends meet.
In "urban core" cities of Bridgeport, New Haven, Waterbury, Hartford and West Haven, families of four need $81,240.
The report, prepared for the commission by Wider Opportunities for Women, a Washington-based organization that promotes economic independence, was released on Equal Pay Day.
Teresa C. Younger, executive director of the state commission, said that women continue to lag behind men in earning power, getting paid 75.8 cents for every dollar earned by men.
"Over their lifetime, they will lose somewhere between $700,000 and $2 million," Younger said during a morning-long review of the report. "And what this means is that we do not build assets at the same rates or the same levels, and it has a disparate impact on our lifelong economic security."
Younger said the report illustrates that the minimum wage, even with the proposal to raise it by a dollar to $9.25 over the next two years, is inadequate.
"It's important to note that we're talking oftentimes about the floor, and what we'd like the conversation to move to is how do we move to the middle?" she said, stressing that some families expend a third of their incomes on child care. "It can actually undermine a family's ability to get to economic security, when they have to pay out hundreds of dollars."
Younger said the commission made a point of avoiding policy recommendations in the contract for the survey.
The full report is available at the Permanent Commission on the Status of Women's website: www.ctpcsw.com.