Most States Hike Minimum Wage
Wisconsin is among 24 states that have kept it at $7.25 an hour.
Low-paid workers across the country got a raise this month, as 19 states increased their minimum wages. A higher minimum wage means that workers will be better able to make ends meet and support their families, but the benefits don’t end there. More income in the pockets of workers translates to additional economic activity, and workers spend their raises at local businesses buying groceries, getting their cars fixed, or paying off medical bills.
The 19 states that increased their minimum wage this month are Massachusetts, Washington, California, New York, Arizona, Maine, Colorado, Alaska, Florida, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, Ohio, South Dakota, Arkansas, Connecticut, Hawaii, Michigan and Vermont.
Unfortunately, Wisconsin workers and communities will not receive any of the benefits of a higher minimum wage. Wisconsin is among the minority of states that have a minimum wage stuck at $7.25 per hour, a level that was last increased in 2009.
Because Wisconsin is not among the states that have set a higher minimum wage, a full-time, full-year worker in Wisconsin still earn as little $14,500 per year. A single parent working full time in Wisconsin 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. Nearly a quarter of the state’s workforce, or 654,000 workers, would get a raise if we raised the minimum wage to $12 by 2020. One-third of the workers who would get raises are older than 25, according to the Economic Policy Institute.
Wisconsin residents whole-heartedly support raising the minimum wage. Just over half of residents want the minimum wage set at $15 an hour, according to a recent poll by Marquette University. That’s an astounding display of support, considering that that the survey asked about a minimum wage level that is more than double the current minimum in Wisconsin, and significantly higher than any other state’s current minimum wage.
Wisconsin lawmakers continue to refuse to increase the state’s minimum wage, letting inflation eat away at its value a little more each year. Lawmakers’ failure to act damages the prospects of families who are working hard to climb the economic ladder. It also harms the state’s economy, depriving it of the extra money those families would spend at local businesses. For now, Wisconsin workers will have to look across state lines to observe the benefits generated by a higher minimum wage.