Local economic voices weigh in on federal proposal raising minimum wage
MILWAUKEE- Two local voices are sharing their opinion on a federal proposal that would increase the nation's -- and Wisconsin's minimum wage.
Jennifer Epps-Addison, the Economic Justice Program Director of Citizen Action of Wisconsin, is supporting Rep. George Miller's (D-Calif.) Fair Minimum Wage Act, H.R. 6211, which would increase the minimum wage by 85 cents a year for the next three years.
Right now, Wisconsin's minimum wage of $7.25 matches the federal minimum wage. That proposal would increase minimum wage in Wisconsin over three years from $7.25 to just under $10 an hour.
"People can't support a family on $7.25 an hour," said Epps-Addison to Newsradio 620 WTMJ's "Wisconsin's Afternoon News with John Mercure."
Statistically speaking she is correct, as those working minimum wage jobs at $7.25 an hour full-time earn around $15,080 a year -- which is about $8,000 below the poverty guideline for a family of four.
Opponents of Epps-Addison, including Brett Healy -- president of MacIver Institute -- believe that minimum wage jobs were never meant to support a family.
"It's a stop gap measure or a foot in the door. Minimum wage jobs were never designed to support families for the long term," argued Healy to "Wisconsin's Afternoon News with John Mercure."
Epps-Addison believes that since 76 percent of workers earning minimum wage are over 20, adults earning minimum wage need an increase to improve their standard of living.
While that may raise the standard of living for those supporting families -- one of the unintended consequences of raising the minimum wage, according to the MacIver Institute, is that teens in Wisconsin are negatively affected.
Healy said raising minimum wage pay hurts those it's intended to help -- entry-level workers.
Meanwhile, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) proposed a Senate bill to raise the federal minimum wage as well.
The minimum wage rate in Wisconsin hasn't changed since July, 2009.