Connecticut passes nation’s highest minimum wage

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Breanna Deutsch Contributor
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Connecticut raised its minimum wage $10.10 an hour from the previous $ 8.70 an hour over the next three years, surpassing Washington as the highest in the country, reports Reuters.

President Obama and congressional Democrats want to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.

Connecticut Gov Dannel Malloy, a Democrat, signed the legislation in New Britain, Conn. Thursday evening.  Malloy made the bill a law at the same diner Café Beauregard — where he had met with the president earlier this month to discuss hiking the minimum wage.

New Britain only has a household median income of $35,000, compared with the statewide median of $66,000.

Malloy believes this move will revitalize the economic health of the city.

“This is just a step in moving people in the right direction,” Malloy said while 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.

The owner of Café Beauregard, Rob Chiovoloni, agrees.

“Restaurants have to absorb costs all the time,” Chiovoloni told The Daily Caller News Foundation, adding,   “the legislation is not going to impact us at all because we are already paying all of our employees above ten dollars an hour.”

He said just like employers must be prepared for variations in the price of ingredients, they must be prepared for increased payroll costs.

While the mandated wage increase will not impact Chiovoloni’s café, other nearby employers are concerned that the extra costs will not only threaten the survival of their business, but will hurt the local economy as a whole.

Musteba Ramadani, owner of Peppino’s Pizza, another restaurant in the New Britain area, told TheDCNF that due to the wage hike he is either going to have to raise the prices on his menu or cut employees’ hours.

Restaurants “are going to have to make sacrifices,” he said. In the end, he doubts that the legislation will give employers a bigger take-home check. “People will make more money per hour, but restaurant owners may have to cut hours.”

Ramadani fears for the future of his business.

“Every day I am concerned and I worry about it,” he told TheDCNF.  “I get up and I wonder if it will be okay. I need to open the doors because if I close the doors everybody is going to lose their job.”

Connecticut State House Republican spokesman Patrick O’Neil voiced similar concerns about the adverse impact the wage mandate could have on unemployment numbers.

“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?” noted O’Neil. “This is just going to cause employers who create jobs in the state to hire even fewer people.”

He added that the real incentive behind the minimum wage campaign was to win votes in the 2014 election cycle.

“This is just politics in an election year and isn’t going to lift anyone out of poverty,” said O’Neil.

A recent report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated that if Congress raises the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour, there would be a loss of 500,000 jobs.

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