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MILFORD, Conn. -- Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy signed into law a measure that will raise the state's minimum hourly rate to $10.10, the highest minimum wage in the nation.
This number, which will be phased in over several years, matches what President Barack Obama has asked Congress to consider imposing nationally, according to a report by Reuters.
"This is just a step in moving people in the right direction," Malloy said in signing the bill. "We will be lifting people out of poverty in the state of Connecticut. Increasing the minimum wage is not just good for workers, it's also good for business."
Connecticut's minimum wage currently stands at $8.70 per hour, and the bill will be phased in to $10.10 over three years. The current highest state minimum wage in the United States belongs to Washington's $9.32, above the $7.25 federal minimum, Reuters reported.
Obama's call for a higher national minimum wage has failed to win the backing of the Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives. In a report released last month, the Congressional Budget Office projected that raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour nationally would reduce total employment by roughly 500,000 workers.
In an April 1 letter sent to the entire Senate, the National Retail Federation (NRF) -- the world’s largest retail trade association -- called the legislation an “anti-job tax,” which would lead to higher labor costs for employers and fewer opportunities for young and entry-level workers.
“Raising the standard of living for low-skill, low-wage workers is a valid goal, but there is clear evidence that mandated wage hikes undermine the job prospects for less-skilled and part-time workers,” NRF Senior Vice President David French stated in the letter.
NRF further noted that this is the “least opportune moment” to mandate a federal wage increase on employers, as small and large businesses alike are already confronting workforce challenges associated with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
Instead of focusing on “sound-bite politics,” the organization urged Congress to focus on advancing long-term economic policies that would provide employers with the certainty they need to make strategic investment decisions and improve hiring opportunities for all workers.
“Policymakers have other tools, such as increasing the earned income tax credit, fixing the tax code, education improvements, immigration reform, transportation funding and strong trade alliances that will aid in achieving that goal without creating more unemployment,” French wrote. “Finding more opportunities for those trying to start out is a better economic approach than restricting the amount of jobs for those seeking employment.”
Washington, D.C.-based NRF represents discount and department stores, home goods and specialty stores, Main Street merchants, grocers, wholesalers, chain restaurants and Internet retailers from the United States and more than 45 countries.