Category Archives: Poverty

Connecticut’s $10.10 Minimum Wage: Adjusted For Inflation, We’ve Been Here Five Times Before

by Categorized: Data, Employment, Finance, Government, Poverty Date:

Connecticut is making national news with legislation boosting the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour beginning in 2017. With Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s planned signature on the bill Thursday evening, the Nutmeg State becomes the first in the nation to agree to eventually knock through the $10 mark for the lowest-paid workers.

But adjusted for inflation, we’ve topped $10.10 before – albeit not for several decades. As the chart below shows, the hourly minimum wage, in 2014 dollars, exceeded $10.10 in 1968, 1969, 1971, 1972 and 1978. The top rate was in 1968, when the inflation-adjusted minimum was $10.78.

The $10.10 wage is, however, significantly higher than the average inflation-adjusted minimum wage over the last 63 years. Since 1951, the lowest-paid workers have earned an average of $8.39 in today’s dollars.

So $10.10 isn’t the most Connecticut employers have been required to pay, and it certainly isn’t the least. And that alone will assure the topic remains controversial and politically divisive.

CT_Minimum Wage

More and More U.S. Clothes Are Made by Bangladeshi Workers Earning Pennies an Hour

by Categorized: Business, Consumer Affairs, Data, Employment, Finance, Politics, Poverty Date:

U.S. consumers horrified by the tragic building collapse in Bangladesh might want to check the manufacturer’s label on the clothing they’re wearing; data show the compact nation is now the fourth-largest source of apparel imported into the U.S., delivering $4.5 billion a year in goods.

That’s more than double the amount imported from Bangladesh a decade ago, and in that same time frame, Bangladesh’s share of the U.S. apparel market has nearly doubled as well. In 2003, Bangladesh ranked 10th among nations supplying the United States, with 3 percent of all apparel imports, Department of Commerce numbers show. But as manufacturers have sought ever-lower labor costs, that figure has jumped to 5.8 percent.

The shift in manufacturing to Bangladesh comes as wages are rising slowly in other apparel-producing countries, including China. Pay in Bangladesh increased three years ago as well, but the minimum wage for garment workers in the country is still about $38 a month.

Efforts to increase that amount have met resistance from factory owners and government officials, who fear even a small uptick in wages will lead Western brands to look elsewhere for suppliers.

Minimum Wage Fight – Historically, $9 an Hour is Higher than Average but Hardly Unprecedented

by Categorized: Business, Data, Finance, Politics, Poverty Date:

Gov. Dannel Malloy’s proposal to increase the minimum wage in Connecticut to $9 an hour over the next two years predictably has brought strong reactions from those who find it a boost for the working poor that will energize retail sales and those who see it as a jobs killer that will hurt small businesses.

But how does that $9 figure compare historically over the 62 years the legislature has been setting the minimum wage in Connecticut? Higher than average, but hardly unprecedented.

As the chart below shows, Connecticut’s minimum wage, in inflation-adjusted dollars, topped the equivalent of $9 an hour for most of the 1960s and ’70s, reaching a peak of $10.63 in 1971. But for the past 34 years, the minimum wage has been set below the equivalent of $9.

Both Malloy’s proposal, and the current minimum wage, are far more than the buying power set by the first legislatively established minimum wage in 1951, when the statutory 75-cent wage was the equivalent of $6.71 an hour in today’s dollars. Inflation ate away at that value until the legislature raised the minimum wage in 1957, and since then, the wage has fallen below the equivalent of $6.71 an hour only once – in 1995.

When the legislature has boosted the minimum wage – as they have done more than two dozen times since 1951- the new rate on average has been the equivalent of $8.78 an hour. Malloy’s proposal exceeds that by 22 cents, or about $450 a year for a full-time worker.


Minimum Wage: Increasing or Decreasing?

by Categorized: Data, Politics, Poverty Date:

Politicians of all stripes are debating whether the nation can afford another increase in the federal minimum wage, which has been boosted more than a dozen times in the last 45 years and is currently set at $7.25 an hour. But according to some number-crunching by Remapping Debate, a data-driven public policy outfit, the real buying power of the minimum wage has been relatively flat for the last 20 years, and considerably lower than it was for decades after 1968.

As the chart below shows, the 1968 minimum wage of $1.60 amounted to $10.34 in current dollars – which was the peak in buying power for the minimum wage since it was established in 1938. From there, the real value of the minimum wage drifted downward, and since 1990 has fluctuated roughly between $6.50 and $7.50 an hour in 2011 dollars.

Remapping debate also calculated the gap between the inflation-adjusted minimum wage and the current poverty level for a family of four. The adjusted 1968 wage – if paid for 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year – would provide an annual income 6 percent below the poverty level for  a family of four. In 2011, according to the group’s data, that gap has widened significantly, and a full-time job at minimum wage today would provide an income 34 percent below the poverty level for a family of four.

Click the chart below for more data.

New Haven to Occupiers: Stop Destroying the Environment!

by Categorized: Environment, Legal Affairs, Politics, Poverty, Public Safety Date:

In court battles, there are the legal skirmishes, and then there are the somewhat extra-judicial appeals to emotion and senses of fair play. Lawyers for New Haven — headed to court tomorrow for Round 2 in their efforts to boot the Occupy New Haven protesters off the Green — are trying both approaches.

In more than 100 pages of freshly filed court papers, the city makes it case that it has the legal authority to shut down the tent city and that its regulations are narrowly tailored and content-neutral. But beyond the legalese, the filings also includes affidavits from city employees bemoaning the environmental damage they say Occupy New Haven has caused. Continue reading

In Fairfield County: Poverty and the Digital Divide

by Categorized: Data, Poverty Date:

Fairfield County is the most Internet-connected metropolitan area in the nation, according to an analysis by the Investigative Reporting Workshop at American University. But a closer look at the broadband map reveals the depth of the digital divide.

Among the 100 largest regions in the country, the census-designated Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk metropolitan statistical area – which includes all of Fairfield County – ranked tops with 79 percent of households subscribing to a broadband Internet connection. But those numbers were hardly uniform.

Fairfield County is also, according to one analysis, No. 1 in the unequal distribution of wealth, and broadband access in the region mirrors that gap. In the map below, those large swathes of purple represent broadband subscribership of 80 to 100 percent. The blotches of yellow-orange in all three cities indicate that only 40 to 60 percent of homes in those sections have access to high-speed Internet.

“The lack of a broadband connection puts people at a profound disadvantage,” the workshop reported. “People without access, who are likely to be lower on the economic ladder, fall further and further behind, widening the ‘digital divide’ between rich and poor.”

Nationally, Southern states, with the exception of North Carolina and Florida, generally had the lowest rates of broadband access. Mississippi, the poorest state in the nation, also had the lowest percentage of broadband subscribers: 35 percent.

Hawaii had the highest rates of broadband access, followed by Connecticut. In addition to Fairfield County, the Hartford-West-Hartford-East Hartford metropolitan area, which includes 57 towns in Hartford, Middlesex and Tolland counties, was also among the top-ten most-wired regions.

An interactive map and the full report, which was co-published by the Center for Public Integrity, are available here.