Report: $10.10 minimum wage would boost 587,000 Wisconsin workers

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Increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 by July 2016 would increase wages for more than half a million Wisconsin workers, according to a report released on Feb. 24 by the Center on Wisconsin Strategy.

COWS is a think-tank based at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

"Raising the minimum wage puts money in workers pockets and establishes a stronger standard for minimal work. It also would provide a modest boost to the economy,” said Laura Dresser, COWS associate director, “In fact, the wage increases would boost economic activity by an estimated $517 million over the course of the increases. That growth would generate 3,800 jobs as businesses expand to meet the consumer demand.”

COWS estimated that 587,000 Wisconsin workers would see wages rise with the hike to $10.10.

Of those workers, the report said 57 percent would be women, 87 percent would be 20 years old or older, 47 percent would have at least some college education, 42 percent would work more than 35 hours per week and nearly two-thirds would be in families with income under than $60,000.

The report also addressed the claim that increasing the minimum wage would destroy jobs.

Studies have confirmed that minimum wage increases do not reduce overall employment levels, according to COWS. The group noted a recent letter signed by nearly 600 economists, including seven Nobel prize winners and eight past presidents of the American Economic Association, that said, "The weight of evidence now [shows] that increases in the minimum wage have had little or no negative effect on the employment of minimum-wage workers, even during times of weakness in the labor market.” 

“Increasing the minimum wage does not ‘kill jobs,” Dresser said. “In fact, higher wages tend to lead to higher productivity and lower turnover. Workers are simply less likely to quit a job that pays more, thereby reducing hiring and training costs. And employees are more likely to invest in improving their job skills when they see a decent future ahead for themselves.” 

COWS, in a news release, described itself as a think-and-do tank "that promotes 'high road' solutions to social problems.

Wisconsin Democrats in both chambers have offered bills to raise the minimum wage.

The president and Democrats of members of Congress also are making an increase in the minimum wage a cornerstone of politics in this midterm election year.