Wisconsin Counties Pursue Minimum Wage Hikes

Date: January 17, 2017

Advocates aim to pressure other localities to follow suit.

In December, the Dane County Board voted to raise the minimum wage for county employees to $15 per hour over six years. While state law prohibits localities from implementing a minimum wage for all workers in a county or city, minimum wage advocates hope the measure will set a precedent for other local governing bodies as well as put pressure on higher levels of government to increase wages.

Rep. Melissa Sargent, who introduced a $15 minimum wage bill in 2015 that failed to pass the Legislature, told the Badger Herald she hopes pushing the issue at the local level will help move it at the state level down the road.

However, NFIB/WI and other business groups remain opposed to minimum wage hikes because of the detrimental effect on job creation and economic growth. Bill Smith, NFIB/WI state director, told the Badger Herald that increasing the minimum wage would be devastating for small businesses, who could be forced to raise prices for consumers or lay off workers to compensate for rising payroll costs. Furthermore, NFIB research shows that a 65 percent spike in labor costs on small employers can lower the state’s economic output by trillions of dollars.

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