March 26: The First State in the US to Raise the Minimum Wage Above $10


On March 26, 2014, Connecticut became the first state in the country to pass legislation that set its minimum wage above $10 an hour.  The new law mandated slight increases rolled out over three years, slowly building up the state’s minimum wage to $10.10 an hour by the start of 2017, and would affect over 70,000 Connecticut workers who earned an hourly wage.

Governor Dannel Malloy, who was in the midst of a re-election campaign following his first term in office, lobbied hard for the increase after President Barack Obama gave a series of speeches focusing on the topic in early 2014, including one given at Central Connecticut State University on March 5 where the President directly invited the governors of Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Vermont  — all of whom were in attendance — to increase their states’ respective minimum wages.

Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy at a minimum wage rally in Hartford in 2014. (CT Mirror)

Since 2014 was a gubernatorial election year for the state, most of the arguments for and against the wage increase fell along partisan lines.  Proponents lauded the move as beneficial for the Connecticut’s working poor, while those opposed warned that government-mandated wage increases would discourage business growth and exacerbate the state’s unemployment rate.  Others noted that Connecticut’s minimum wage — then the fourth-highest in the country — was already scheduled to increase to $9 by the beginning of 2015 even without any new legislation.  On March 26, the legislation passed through both chambers of the state legislature, making Connecticut the first state to codify a minimum wage of over $10.  A financial boost for tens of thousands of hourly wage workers was first set into motion, today in Connecticut history.

Further Reading:

Connecticut becomes first state to pass $10.10 minimum wage,CT Mirror

Connecticut is increasing minimum wage to $10.10 an hour,” New York Times