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Hartford Healthcare joins growing number raising minimum hourly wage

Hartford HealthCare says it will increase its minimum hourly wage to $15 an hour beginning March 31, becoming the latest healthcare provider to make such a move as a national debate over whether a similar increase to the federal minimum wage begins.

The health system announced Monday that more than 2,400 of its 20,000 employees will be affected by the pay raise.

Hartford CEO Elliot Joseph said in a news release the decision came after months of planning, and that he expects the move will help the system be more competitive in recruiting job applicants and increase retention of existing workers.

“This important decision is a reflection of our respect for our staff and a product of our core value of integrity that calls us to ‘do the right thing,” Joseph said in the release.

Hartford joins a handful of health systems to increase hourly wages for their lowest-paid workers.

Last month, the Cleveland announced plans to increase its hourly minimum wage to $15 effective in 2020, while in November Advocate Aurora Health said it would also raise its wage to $15 an hour beginning 2021 that it projected would affect 21% of its 70,000 employees.

The decision by health systems to raise their minimum wage could be seen as an attempt by them to stay competitive in a job market that has seen a growing number of companies such as Amazon, Target, and health insurer Cigna all make commitments to increase wages in recent years.

The move comes as a number of state and local governments shift toward passing legislation to require companies to increase that minimum hourly wages.

On Jan. 1, a total of 19 states have imposed minimum wage increases affecting benefit more than 5 million workers, according to figures from the Economic Policy Institute, a Washington D.C.-based, not-for-profit, nonpartisan think tank.