WILTON, Conn. — A proposal by President Barack Obama to raise the federal minimum wage from the current $7.25 to $10.10 by 2017 is one that has employees in Wilton split.
Eamon Flaherty, an employee at Peachwave Frozen Yogurt — where employees earn more than the state’s $8.70 per hour minimum — said he is in favor of raising the federal minimum wage. At the same time, however, he said boosting it to $10.10 per hour, especially in the current economy, may be too high and end up hurting small businesses.
“I think small businesses like this would have a hard time adjusting to the wage increase without cutting back on hours or jobs,” said Eamon, a senior at Wilton High School. “I definitely support a raise, but I think $10.10 would cut into profits too much, which is not good.”
Connecticut's minimum wage rose from $8.25 to $8.70 per hour this past Jan. 1. By next January, it is set to increase to $9 per hour. Last month, Gov. Dannel Malloy and the Democratic leadership in the legislature introduced a bill that would raise the state’s minimum wage to $10.10 per hour by 2017. The bill passed through the General Assembly’s Labor and Public Employees Committee and is pending approval by the state Senate.
In regard to the federal level, Eamon said $7.25 is definitely too low — especially for the many adults who are having to settle for minimum wage jobs.
“It’s not just students anymore who have these types of jobs,” he said.
Instead of raising the federal level to $10.10 per hour, Eamon said he thinks somewhere between $8.75 to $9.25 an hour would be a good middle ground— it would help alleviate employee stress without putting stress on the employer, he said.
Casey Cunningham, one of Eamon’s co-workers, agreed that $10.10 would be too much of an increase. From an employee standpoint, she said making that much an hour would be desirable. But, it could be problematic from a business standpoint, she said.
“If a business can’t afford to pay their employees that much, they may have to end up laying off a bunch of people,” Casey said, also a senior at Wilton High School.
Earlier this month, Obama visited Central Connecticut State University in New Britain to push for raising the federal level. His proposal is one Elise Reeves, who works at a national coffee-shop chain, said she fully supports.
“I don’t know how people can live off that,” she said about the current federal minimum. “I finished college in December and haven’t been able to land a job in my field, and I know there are a ton of people across the country in my situation.”
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