The bill, which was approved by state legislators a day earlier,
will raise the state's minimum hourly rate to $10.10, a figure that
matches what U.S. President Barack Obama has asked Congress to
consider imposing nationally.
Malloy signed the legislation on Thursday evening in the same New
Britain diner where he appeared earlier this month with Obama and
three other New England governors: Deval Patrick of Massachusetts,
Peter Shumlin of Vermont and Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island. All are
Democrats who have pushed to raise the minimum wage in their states.
New Britain, located in the center of the state, has been hard hit
by the economic downtown with the household median income at about
$35,000, compared with the statewide median of $66,000.
"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," he added.
Connecticut's Speaker of the House Brendan Sharkey, also a Democrat,
said: "Raising the minimum wage helps people who need it most, is
good for the economy and is the right thing to do."
State House Republican spokesman Patrick O'Neil said his party
opposed the measure because it does not believe the bill will help
create jobs in a state with an unemployment rate of 7.2 percent,
above the national average.
"This is just politics in an election year and isn't going to lift
anyone out of poverty," O'Neil said.
"In Bridgeport, the state's largest city, there is a 50 percent
unemployment rate among teens ages 16-19. If they can't get a job at
$8.70 an hour, what will it be like when the rate goes up?" he said.
"This is just going to cause employers who create jobs in the state
to hire even fewer people."
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Obama's call for a higher national minimum wage has failed to win
the backing of the Republican-controlled U.S. House of
The Congressional Budget Office said in a report released last month
that raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour nationally would
reduce total employment by some 500,000 workers.
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 is Washington's
$9.32, above the $7.25 federal minimum.
Malloy is up for re-election this year and state Republicans have
called the measure a politically influenced move.
(Editing by Scott Malone, Gunna Dickson, Dan Whitcomb and Lisa
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