April 29, 2024

Legislature Approves 2.5% Pay Increases for State Workers

Last week, both Senate and House Democrats passed resolutions approving 2.5% raises for about 46,000 unionized state workers, and another 2% “step” increase for others who have risen to higher levels of responsibility in their jobs, as part of the four-year labor contract that was negotiated by Governor Lamont.

The union covers state employees from correctional officers to nurses to social workers to National Guard members, engineers, and others.

The governor originally negotiated the contract with the 35 different bargaining units that make up the SEBAC state employees union back in April 2022; the fourth year of the contract (for the next fiscal year, beginning on July 1) was left as a “reopener” for the two sides to negotiate, depending on the economy. If the economy was good, state employees would get a raise. If the economy was poor, state employees would get nothing.

Fortunately, Connecticut’s economy has been doing very well lately. The state Labor Department found that the average Connecticut private-sector hourly earnings in February were up 4.6% from the same time a year ago, and weekly wages were up 4.3% from a year ago.

The latest figures from the state Labor Department find that Connecticut employers added 4,900 jobs in March, meaning Connecticut has added 13,300 new jobs in just the first three months of 2024. We’ve also reached a new record high in private employment, with the private sector now employing 1.475 million people all across the state.

Also, over the past year, Republican-led cities and towns in Connecticut have been awarding their municipal labor unions multi-year contracts with annual raises and other benefits.

And Forbes business magazine reported just this month that the number of billionaires who call Connecticut home has grown to 19. The top two made $19.4 and $15.8 billion last year alone.

Unfortunately, the number of state and local government jobs in Connecticut is still down 12,000 from where it was in 2008, before the recession. Government jobs are the only job sector in Connecticut that have not recovered from their levels 16 years ago – and yet the demand for state services remains constant, if not increasing.