By STEPHEN SINGER,  Associated Press

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) _ Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said he supports President Barack Obama’s push to increase the federal minimum wage but remained noncommittal Wednesday about whether Connecticut should raise it on its own.

Obama has called on Congress to raise the federal minimum wage, currently $7.25 an hour, to $9 in stages by the end of 2015, and allow for automatic increases to keep pace with inflation. Legislation under consideration in Connecticut would do nearly the same thing, increasing the minimum wage from $8.25 an hour to $9 on July 1 and to $9.75 a year later, with automatic increases tied to the Consumer Price Index.

Malloy said boosting the wage just in Connecticut could damage the state’s competitiveness in attracting business. A national wage increase would make all states level.

“I absolutely support the president’s move to raise nationally to $9 and I’m open to discussion about what we should do in Connecticut,” Malloy told reporters.

Over time, the minimum wage “should probably get to $9,” he said.

“I would prefer it be done on a national basis but I understand that Connecticut frequently leads,” the governor said.

Andrew Markowski, Connecticut state director of the National Federation of Independent Business, said that with an unemployment rate of 8.6 percent in December, the most recent month for which statistics are available, Connecticut is struggling to attract and keep business. Nationally, unemployment was 7.7 percent in February.

“Boosting the cost of labor now would be entirely counterproductive,” he said.

Organized labor and its allies are pushing for the state legislation. In January, a spokesman for Malloy said the governor was supportive of “the ideals behind the legislation,” but also considered cost pressures facing businesses, particularly in the weak economy. Legislation to raise Connecticut’s minimum wage passed the House of Representatives last year, but failed to come up in the Senate.

Malloy said then he was concerned that raising the minimum wage would hurt business in a fragile economy.
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(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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