Government works best when it works for all of us. After years of policies slanted in favor of the wealthy few and big corporations, the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) will rebuild after the pandemic recession from the ground up instead of the top down. It will help families pay the rent, feed their kids, fix the car and resume their lives. It will allow local governments, schools, colleges, transit agencies and other public employers to rehire laid-off workers, re-open recreation centers, put buses back on the streets and teachers back in the classroom. The ARPA will provide targeted relief to those who have been hurt most by the pandemic and those who have been harmed by years of policies that prioritize the wealthy at everyone else’s expense.
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.
In November 2020, Floridians made the historic decision to move an estimated 2.5 million Floridians closer to a living wage with the passage of Amendment 2. The state minimum wage increase goes into effect in September 2021, increasing from $8.65 to $10 per hour, then rising by $1 per hour each year until it reaches $15 in 2026.
In anticipation of this increase, Florida Policy Institute (FPI) and Rutgers University’s Center for Innovation in Worker Organization (CIWO) assessed the extent to which the current state minimum wage is enforced. FPI and CIWO analyzed over 15 years of U.S. Census data and recent records obtained from the Florida Attorney General’s Office to do so.
Failing to pay workers the minimum wage is but one of many forms of wage theft. However, given the timeliness of Amendment 2, wage theft in this report refers solely to minimum wage violations among low-wage workers (those with incomes in the bottom 20 percent) unless otherwise indicated.
FPI and CIWO’s analysis finds:
- The minimum wage has been largely unenforced for at least a decade.
- After Florida’s 2005 minimum wage increase, its minimum wage violation rate more than doubled to 17 percent by the end of 2007.
- Victims of wage theft lose 18 percent of the minimum wage to which they are entitled, on average, or $1.32 per hour.
- Floridians in the state’s top industries (agriculture, service, and real estate) suffer the highest wage theft rates.
- Black, Latina, and immigrant women are more likely to face wage theft than their peers.
- If these violation rates persist, Florida could expect to lose an average of $25.3 million in sales tax revenue each year over the next six years.
Before Amendment 2 goes into effect, Florida policymakers should mitigate these unsettling trends by reintroducing a State Department of Labor equipped with the authority and resources necessary to ensure working Floridians are paid the wages they are entitled to.
This new Council Period, DC policymakers can continue advancements in racial equity (as envisioned in the Racial Equity Achieves Results Amendment Act of 2020) and help build a just economic recovery with recreational cannabis policy. DC’s Black and brown communities are still enduring the harmful effects of past policies that penalized cannabis, and nationally, about 80 percent of people incarcerated for a federal drug offense are Black or Latino. Legalizing the sale of recreational cannabis in a reparative way would allow these communities to achieve justice and build wealth. While the recreational sale of cannabis is still illegal in DC, the office of the DC Attorney General concluded that The District can proceed with legislative hearings on regulating the sale of recreational cannabis despite ongoing congressional interference. The new Democratic-led Senate could also help usher in legislative changes that affirm DC’s right to self-determination in setting recreational cannabis regulation.