Research Group Says Raising Minimum Wage Would Put $816M Into Wisconsin Economy

The research group says increasing the federal minimum wage would bring an additional $816 million into Wisconsin's economy by 2016. Photo: elycefeliz (CC-BY-NC-ND)

A liberal-leaning research group from the University of Wisconsin Madison is advocating for a higher minimum wage. A new report from the Center on Wisconsin Strategy (COWS) says a base wage of $10.10 an hour will pump almost a billion dollars into the state’s economy over the next three years.

Laura Dresser is a COWS economist and an author of the report. She says 587,000 Wisconsin residents work for the current minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. She says a bump up in the minimum wage would pump $816 million into the state’s economy by 2016.

“We find that 87 percent of the workers … who we estimate would be impacted are 20-years-old or over. So mostly these are workers who are not in their teens,” Dresser said. “Forty percent are working full time.”

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Dresser says most of those workers are women.

Dresser was joined in a conference call for reporters by state Sen. Bob Wirch (D-Kenosha).

He commented on last week’s state Assembly vote that limits so-called “living wage” ordinances, like those in the city of Milwaukee and Dane County. Wirch called the vote “shameful” and “wrong.”

“I think … a bunch of extremists are in control of the Republican party,” Wirch said. “In the past we got moderate Republicans to support an increase in the minimum wage, yet in this Legislature we haven’t even been able to get a public hearing, and it’s late in the session.”

The report from the Center on Wisconsin Strategy also says the state’s minority population would benefit from a minimum wage increase. The study showed forty percent of low wage earners are either of African-American or Hispanic descent.