Patchwork of Paychecks: Connecticut

There are not enough jobs to go around in Connecticut. There are 215,000 job seekers, but only about 57,000 total job openings. Of those, only 50 percent pay a living wage for a single adult and only 12 percent pay enough for a single adult with two children to make ends meet. This means there are seven job seekers for every job opening that pays a living wage for a single adult and 31 job seekers for every job opening that pays a living wage for a single adult with two children.

Additionally, women and people of color in Connecticut are more likely to work part-time than are workers overall. While just over 27 percent of all workers reported working part-time, 35 percent of black workers and 39 percent of female workers reported working fewer than 40 hours per wee

Testimonial: WUBHAREG BORU  |  EAST HARTFORD, CT

CT - Wubhareg Boru

I am Ethiopian and I came to Connecticut in 2008. I was 19 years old when I came to this country and wanted to continue my education, but I could not afford it. I got free Certified Nursing Assistant training through Job Corps that helped me get work.

My first job in Connecticut was with a home care agency. My client needed assistance with daily activities such as bathing or going to the doctor. I was paid $11 per hour, but I didn’t have a set work schedule. I could not make ends meet with one client. As a result, I got a second job at Dunkin’ Donuts. At Dunkin’ Donuts I worked 32 to 38 hours a week making $8.25 per hour.

I worked two jobs and tried to keep up with the demands of both. This was very difficult because public transportation did not run 24 hours. I found myself short on money for my bills every month. I worked my home care job and the Dunkin’ Donuts job for a couple of years. Because of the low wages, I could not pay my bills and I was forced to choose to leave my family here and see if I could do better in another state.

I moved to Tennessee. In Tennessee, I was working as a home care worker making $8 and a warehouse operator making $10 an hour for a 40-hour week. Again, I found myself struggling to make ends meet, but this time I had a child to feed. This forced me to move back to Connecticut because I needed a support system to help me raise my child.

My situation still has not improved. I am going back in forth working in the fast food industry and in home care work. I am struggling to keep up with the demands of a five-year-old. Since my work schedule is busy, I cannot take my child to after school programs or help him with his homework.

What is frustrating is there are solutions to
these issues. 

Last year, I had an opportunity to testify in support of a bill that would require large low-wage employers like the one I work for to either pay $15 an hour or pay a penalty to help fund homecare services for the elderly and disabled.  If this bill is passed, it would serve three important purposes: help struggling fast food workers, improve funding for home care services, and maybe also provide the revenue to help me make a living wage.

I deserve wages that will allow me to progress, have a career, and to do the work I love without having to rely on others.

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