Sure, things have picked up dramatically since 2008. Connecticut’s unemployment rate is now 4.4 percent and its minimum wage is one of the highest in the nation. On the surface, this is great, right?
CT Comptroller, Kevin Lembo puts this in perspective, “A closer analysis shows wage growth has been concentrated at the top of the income scale, while lower and middle income groups have seen wages stagnating.”
In fact, our nonprofit partner, Connecticut Voices for Children reports: “In the 1950s, the top one percent in the United States and the top one percent in Connecticut each held about ten percent of the income in the country and in the state, respectively. Currently, the top one percent of income earners in Connecticut makes an astonishing 37 times what the bottom 99 percent makes, making Connecticut the third most unequal state in the nation, behind only New York and Florida.”
Adding another layer of gloom is persistent wage inequality. CT Voices notes that blacks and Latinos make less than 65 cents on the dollar compared to what whites make. Women make 87 cents on the dollar when compared to men’s paychecks.
So despite a superficially rosy jobs and wage picture, the gap between those who ‘have’ and those at the bottom of the wage scale has significantly widened.
What this means is Connecticut’s working families continue to struggle to reach a decent standard of living – one that allows them to afford food, shelter, childcare, healthcare as well as other necessities. Consider this example: someone earning the minimum wage would have to work one-half hour to afford a gallon of milk and a loaf of bread. That leaves about $400 before taxes that week for everything else, including all the other groceries.
Looked at another way, Connecticut is the eighth most expensive state in terms of housing. Using the housing measure, a person earning Connecticut’s minimum wage would have to work 79 hours a week to afford the average modest one-bedroom apartment at fair market rent. For a two-bedroom, that requires 99 hours of work!
Want to know about the situation and consider suggested solutions? read the Connecticut Voices for Children report.