Wisconsin Budget

Several More States Raise Minimum Wage

29 states and D.C. have now raised it above federal minimum. But not Wisconsin.

By , Wisconsin Budget Project - Jul 8th, 2016 10:32 am
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Low-paid workers in various locations across the country got a raise this month, as increases in the minimum wage took effect in several states, counties, and cities. However, workers in Wisconsin were not among those benefitting from an increase in the minimum wage.

Locations with increases in the minimum wage include:

  • Oregon, where the minimum wage increased to $9.75 per hour in urban counties and $9.50 in rural counties. The minimum will gradually increase to $12.50 to $14.75 depending on the county in 2022.
  • Maryland, where the lowest-paid hourly workers now earn at least $8.75 an hour. Maryland’s minimum wage is set to slowly increase to $10.10 in 2018.
  • Los Angeles, where low-paid workers will now get at least $10.50 an hour – and six days of paid leave a year. The minimum wage in Los Angeles is set to increase gradually to $15 per hour in 2020.
  • Chicago, where workers will now earn at least $10.50 an hour. The minimum will increase in steps to $13 in 2019.
  • Louisville, Kentucky, where the minimum wage increased to $8.25 per hour. Next year the minimum will increase again to $9 per hour.

The federal minimum wage hasn’t been increased since 2009, but lawmakers in most states have approved state-level minimum wages above the federal level of $7.25. Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia now have minimum wages higher than the federal level.

Wisconsin is not among the states that have set a higher minimum wage, meaning that workers in Wisconsin still earn as little as $7.25/hour. That translates to about $14,500 per year for a full-time worker, meaning that a single parent working full time at the minimum wage would earn less than the poverty level. Wisconsin state lawmakers have prohibited local governments from setting their own higher minimum wages.

Workers in Wisconsin have a lot to gain from an increase in the minimum wage. Raising the minimum to $12 by 2020 would give a raise to 654,000 workers – nearly a quarter of the state’s workforce. One-third of the workers who would get raises are older than 25, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

Workers wouldn’t be the only people in Wisconsin who would benefit from an increase in the minimum wage. Raising the wage would improve the economic well-being of 284,000 Wisconsin children whose parents would get raises.

Most Wisconsin residents believe it’s time to raise our minimum wage. A Marquette University poll from June 2016 showed 54% of survey respondents favor an increase in the minimum wage, with 42% opposing an increase.

Wisconsin residents have also shown their support at the ballot box for increasing the minimum wage. In 2014, voters in 13 Wisconsin counties and cities had the opportunity to vote on a referendum asking lawmakers to raise the minimum wage – and every one of the referendums passed.

It’s high time to raise Wisconsin’s minimum wage and put more money into the pockets of families who are working hard to climb the economic ladder. Doing so would give a boost to the state’s economy, as families spend the additional money at local businesses, helping the bottom lines of those businesses. Policymakers in other states and locations have seen the wisdom of increasing the minimum wage and Wisconsin lawmakers should follow suit.

7 thoughts on “Wisconsin Budget: Several More States Raise Minimum Wage”

  1. Mark says:

    I’m torn on this. While I understand in some cities it just costs more to live. At the same time, I don’t think someone at a fast food place in Wisconsin deserves $12-$15 an hour for giving me the same cruddy service they gave me at $7.50 an hour. There has to be some merit based system where outstanding employees get more, but I imagine that leaves you open to all types of legal issues.

  2. happyjack27 says:

    i presume you’d say the same thing about the $1.60 minimum wage in 1970?

    The equivalent fraction of productvivity today would be on the order of $21.

  3. Jason says:

    Is anyone concerned about the elderly on fixed incomes? Where is their raise when a cup of coffee at McDonald’s goes up or grocery prices for simple groceries go up. A local grocer like Sendik’s pays $9 an hour yet you want Obama to tell the Balestrari Family they must go to $15 dollars an hour? Another example, Octupus car wash on Green Bay Rd. north of Capital. Their are ten guys out there hand washing cars. A wash is about $10. You give them all a $3 dollar raise and the owner decides to go with automation because he can charge $10 with robots and $15 with workers. How many of Octupus customers are going to come back when you force them to deal with a 50 percent mark up. So, were essentially left with 10 unemployed men searching for new work.

  4. Gregg Nelsen says:

    I will not be critical of other’s comments. It seems common sense with steady increases in cost of living, utilities, food and cars, an increase in minimum wage is badly needed. Again, this is another issue Scott Walker condones and makes people want to leave Wisconsin. This state has never been in more turmoil since he took office!

  5. Vincent Hanna says:

    So Jason the only choices are no jobs or perpetual poverty? That’s it? Your concern for the elderly and their $1 coffee is admirable, but what about the fact that the minimum wage has not kept up with inflation? The concern for the small business owner is always infinitely greater than the concern for the people making poverty wages.

  6. happyjack27 says:

    Jason brings up a good point that technological innovation is bringing about rapid productivity gains, and the benefits of that are NOT being seen by the common worker, but rather, by the business owners. It is a factor that is helping to drive income inequality in America. Uhber is already looking at replacing their employees with robots (self-driving cars).

    There needs to be acton on the other end to compensate for the social impact of disruptive technology, like ending the Bush tax cats.

  7. happyjack27 says:

    CUTS – that was supposed to be tax CUTS.

    Oh my.. tax cats. Meow.

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