Living Wages Under Assault

Living Wage signThe Republican controlled legislature has fast-tracked a bill, AB 750, that would prohibit localities from adopting "living wage" laws. What this will mean is a substantial wage CUT for many workers in cities like Madison and Milwaukee, where there have long been living wage laws in effect. And it will prevent Milwaukee County from implementing a new living wage law that is just about to be enacted.

Wisconsin Jobs Now explains the bill this way:

"The bill would ensure ongoing poverty by making it illegal for municipalities to set living wage standards. The measure passed on a party-line vote. This is misguided and unfortunate, but not shocking. With barely 48 hours between the bill’s introduction and adoption in committee, Assembly Republicans continue to strong-arm widely-unpopular legislation through the Capitol, only breaking to allow the bare minimum in legally-mandated public input." [Wisconsin Jobs Now, February 13, 2014]

To see just how difficult it is to live in Wisconsin with wages below a living wage, visit MIT's Living Wage Calculator for Wisconsin. The same site shows the average hourly wages for various occupations. Here is what those wages look like for Milwaukee County (the figures in red fall below a living wage standard for an adult with one child).

Occupational Area Typical Hourly Wage
Management $40.49
Business and Financial Operations $26.27
Computer and Mathematical $31.00
Architecture and Engineering $29.82
Life, Physical and social Science $25.51
Community and Social Services $19.72
Legal $27.70
Education, Training and Library $21.22
Arts, Design, Entertainment, Sports and Media $18.13
Healthcare Practitioner and Technical $27.88
Healthcare Support $12.24
Protective Service $17.33
Food Preparation and Serving Related $8.77
Building and Grounds Cleaning and maintenance $10.94
Personal care and Services $9.70
Sales and Related $11.05
Office and Administrative Support $14.49
Farming, Fishing and Forestry $12.16
Construction and Extraction $21.46
Installation, Maintenance and Repair $19.49
Production $15.72
Transportation and Material Moving $14.18

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