Wages

The vast majority of American households’ income comes from what workers receive in their paychecks – which is why wages are so important. Unfortunately, wages for most workers grew exceptionally slowly between 1979 and 2012, despite productivity—which essentially measures the economy’s potential for providing rising living standards for all—rising 64 percent. In other words, most Americans, even those with college degrees, have only been treading water—despite working more productively (and being better educated) than ever.

EARN groups provide key research and policy analysis describing how these trends have played out at the state and local levels, and what policymakers can do about it.

Publications

Excluded Workers Demand Inclusion: $200 Million Investment is Essential Though Less than Half of What’s Needed

In this pivotal moment, DC policymakers must spend federal rescue funds in a timely way, with a laser focus on addressing the racial inequities that have excluded Black and brown communities from economic gains and left them more vulnerable to the COVID-19 crisis. Unfortunately, federal policymakers excluded certain residents—including immigrants who are undocumented and workers in the informal cash economy—from federal relief that provides vital cash assistance to those who have lost income. Intentional investment is needed from DC policymakers to right this unfair exclusion and pursue an equitable and inclusive future for these workers.

The COVID-19 Recession Further Undercuts California Women’s Opportunities for Economic Security

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed many Californians and Americans to unprecedented economic instability, but many women in California were already struggling to pay the bills prior to the onset of the economic crisis. According to the California Women’s Well-Being Index, in a five-year period leading up to the COVID-19 pandemic, many women across the state were experiencing economic hardship — and this was happening during the longest period of economic growth on record. California women faced a significant wage gap, and women were more likely than men to earn low wages and to live in poverty. Pre-pandemic hardship and lack of economic security was particularly acute for American Indian, Black, Latinx, and Pacific Islander women in California.

What a $15 Minimum Wage Means for Working Wisconsin

We’ve released a new factsheet on how raising the minimum wage to $15 by 2025 in Wisconsin would impact the state’s workers. Using data from the Economic Policy Institute’s recently released report on the Raise the Wage Act of 2021 (which would raise the national minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2025), we’ve summarized findings for Wisconsin and added some context to fill in the picture on wage standards in the state and region.

COWS’ State of Working Wisconsin 2020 showed the ways the pandemic and the COVID-19 economic collapse has exposed and exacerbated economic inequality in the state. The workers who have carried the brunt of the economic burden are disproportionately people of color and women, working in our lowest wage sectors. These are the very workers who stand to gain from a higher minimum wage.

What 2020 Revealed For Women (And How Recovery Can Happen)

Overall, the pandemic economy has not been kind to women, particularly women of color. Since March 2020, women have lost 5.4 million net jobs, nearly 1 million more than men. Service industries that tend to have higher concentrations of women workers, including women of color, were the hardest hit by the virus. Pre-pandemic, those jobs often paid less and offered fewer benefits—like health care or paid leave—that might have helped women better weather this particular crisis. Frankly, the pre-pandemic economy wasn’t particularly kind to women either, especially women of color and immigrant women who were more likely to work in these industries.