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Labor Day: How Are Workers Faring in CT?

CIO Education Department comic book pamphlet, c. 1945. Photo by Tobias Higbie, Flickr.

While we enjoy the day off this Monday, it’s important to remember that Labor Day means much more than a long weekend. Working men and women make this country what it is, and their success or failure spells success or failure for the entire nation.

A report out from Connecticut Voices for Children finds that the wage gap is widening in Connecticut. The state’s median hourly wage, adjusted for inflation, has declined from $20.61 in 2008 to $20.29 in 2011. Most of the growth has gone to Connecticut’s highest wage-earners. Low-income workers have seen hours cut, and an increase in part-time jobs.

The report says that Connecticut is losing its middle-class and that declining job opportunities for youth and decreasing wages and unemployment rates for Hispanics (the state’s largest growing racial demographic) are serious problems the state must face.

Connecticut must recognize the growing threat to its future, and act accordingly. While the recession has thrown the state into a yearly fiscal crisis, only with well-informed and concerted efforts to invest in education, create middle-class jobs with living wages, and protect youth and other populations that are Connecticut’s future, can Connecticut ensure that the next generation of Connecticut residents will prosper.

Support for working men and women and the unions that represent them is just as important now as at any time in our state’s past.

If you have the opportunity to discuss Labor Day with your class next week, or to teach students about labor history at any point in the school year, check out these great curriculum resources NEA has compiled.

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