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Report: Economic Inequality Increasing in Connecticut

The share of private-sector jobs in low-wage industries has increased by 20 percent in Connecticut since 2001. (Jan McLaughlin /Flickr)
The share of private-sector jobs in low-wage industries has increased by 20 percent in Connecticut since 2001. (Jan McLaughlin /Flickr)
September 7, 2016

NEW HAVEN, Conn. - Economic inequality is growing in Connecticut, and a new report says that's putting a huge burden on low-wage workers and minority families.

The report from Connecticut Voices for Children documented a long-term shift in jobs and wages in the state. According to report co-author Ray Noonan, the loss of manufacturing jobs in the early 2000s was compounded by vast job losses during the Great Recession, and the end of the recession did not restore the status quo.

"During our economic recovery, we've mostly gained jobs in low-wage sectors," he said. "That means retail, that means restaurants, etc., and what that means is that fewer families in Connecticut today are able to afford to raise a family here."

The report found that since 2001, the share of low-wage jobs has increased by 20 percent, while the share of higher-paying jobs has decreased by 13 percent.

Noonan said children do well when families do well, which means solid, middle-class wages that can pay for the child care, health services and transportation that children need to succeed.

"When children don't have this, they're going to have less stable households, more toxic stress that affects their development," he said, "and ultimately, this is going to affect the next generation of Connecticut residents."

The report said the impact has been hardest on people of color. It said black workers make about $7.25 an hour less than white workers, and Hispanic workers make about $8 an hour less - gaps that have widened since before the recession.

Derek Thomas, fiscal policy fellow at Connecticut Voices for Children, said the state needs to attract higher-paying jobs by investing in children and families and take steps to help bridge the gap between low wages and rising costs.

"We want to do things like raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, make sure that more working families have access to high-quality child care and continue to invest in infrastructure in the state," he said.

The full report, "State of Working Connecticut 2016," is online at ctvoices.org.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - CT