Blueprint Lays Framework to Help all Communities in Wisconsin Thrive

Thursday, January 19, 2017 at 6:15 PM by
In order for Wisconsin remain an attractive place to live and work, the state needs to make investments in a skilled workforce, a strong public education system, and a healthy citizenry. A broad-based coalition has set out a plan for how we can invest to help Wisconsin communities thrive – and it starts by recouping millions of dollars lost to tax loopholes that benefit a small number of people.

Judge’s Decision Puts Scope of Overtime Protections in Trump’s Hands

Wednesday, December 7, 2016 at 1:04 PM by

Suspended Rule Change Would Benefit Nearly 1 in 4 Salaried Workers in Wisconsin

Low-wage workers who are required to work long hours deserve the protection of federal overtime laws. Unfortunately, a long-awaited federal rule change that would have extended overtime benefits to almost one fourth of salaried Wisconsin workers has been blocked and its fate is now in the hands of the incoming Trump administration.

The new overtime rule approved by the Labor Department was scheduled to take effect on December 1, but a November 22nd ruling by a district court judge in Texas put the rule in limbo. The judge’s injunction might enable the new president to kill the rule simply by not appealing that decision, rather than going through the lengthy rulemaking process that would otherwise be required to reverse or change the new rule.

The judge’s ruling maintains the current policy that says employers don’t have to pay overtime to salaried workers earning more than $23,660 per year ($455 per week) if they are classified in any of these three categories: executives, administrators, or professionals. Read more

Categories: Blog, ECONOMIC SECURITY, income | Comments Off on Judge’s Decision Puts Scope of Overtime Protections in Trump’s Hands

Strong Income Gains in 2015, but Hold the Champagne

Thursday, September 15, 2016 at 5:12 PM by

Poverty Remains Well above Pre-recession Level, and Extreme Disparities Continue

In many respects, the national and Wisconsin data released today by the Census Bureau is much better than I dared hope for, but that doesn’t mean I’ll be popping any champagne corks today. A closer analysis of the data reveals that most Wisconsinites are still making less than they did before the Great Recession, and our state continues to have extreme economic disparities based on race. Read more

Categories: Blog, economy, income, poverty | Comments Off on Strong Income Gains in 2015, but Hold the Champagne

Decline in Unions Hurts Non-Unionized Workers Too

Monday, September 12, 2016 at 7:14 AM by
The decline in unions has reduced pay for non-unionized workers as well as unionized ones, costing some workers thousands of dollars a year in lost wages, and is a major contributor to growing levels of income inequality.
Categories: Blog, In Focus Jobs and the Economy, JOBS & THE ECONOMY | Comments Off on Decline in Unions Hurts Non-Unionized Workers Too

Uneven Progress for Wisconsin Workers

Monday, September 5, 2016 at 8:26 PM by

The latest annual State of Working Wisconsin report has some positive findings about recent trends for Wisconsin workers; however, it also shines a light on some ongoing challenges, and it concludes that Wisconsinites “all need stronger policy to support broadly shared prosperity.”

COWS (formerly known as the Center on Wisconsin Strategy) issues this report every Labor Day weekend. Because it’s an illuminating report, and Labor Day is an important holiday, I want to share the major findings – while minimizing my own labor this weekend. In that spirit, I am passing along several excerpts from the COWS press release.

On the plus side of the ledger, the report describes the positive effects in Wisconsin of the national economy’s gradual rebound from the Great Recession:

“The state has more jobs than ever before, unemployment rates have fallen to pre-recession levels, and workers that want full-time work are having an easier time finding it.

Read more
Categories: Blog, economy, income inequality, jobs, Racial & ethnic disparities | Comments Off on Uneven Progress for Wisconsin Workers

Wisconsin’s Middle Class: Still Solid, but Losing Ground

Tuesday, May 17, 2016 at 2:09 PM by

Wisconsin’s middle class, while still one of the largest in the country, is shrinking. Most of the loss has occurred as people fell out of the middle class to the lower income tier, rather than climbing into the upper tier.

In Wisconsin, 62.5% of residents were in the middle class in 2000, the second largest share of any state, according to a new report from Pew Research Center. By 2014, Wisconsin’s middle class had shrunk to 57.2% of residents and Wisconsin’s rank for the size of our middle class had dropped to 4th.

Wisconsin needs a strong middle class in order to thrive economically. Businesses need a large middle class, bolstered by broad-based income growth, to generate customers. The middle class is at the heart of Wisconsin’s workforce, and decisions made by the middle class drive public investments in Wisconsin’s schools and communities. Pew defines the middle class this way: “Middle-income Americans are adults whose size-adjusted household income is two-thirds to double the national median size-adjusted household income.”

The fact that Wisconsin’s middle class is shrinking is a problem, one that we share with nearly all the other states. Read more

Categories: Blog, ECONOMIC SECURITY, income inequality, JOBS & THE ECONOMY | Comments Off on Wisconsin’s Middle Class: Still Solid, but Losing Ground

Wisconsin Residents Favor Increasing Taxes on Wealthy, Poll Shows, But Lawmakers do the Opposite

Wednesday, April 27, 2016 at 10:51 AM by

Wisconsin residents strongly favor raising taxes on the wealthy and large corporations to reduce income inequality, a new poll shows. But instead of raising taxes on these groups, Wisconsin lawmakers have taken steps to give significant tax breaks to taxpayers with high incomes and corporations.

Two-thirds (66%) of survey respondents support raising taxes on the rich and big businesses, according to the spring 2016 Wisconsin Survey conducted by the Strategic Research Institute at St. Norbert College.  Another 28% of respondents did not support raising taxes, and seven percent weren’t sure.

Strong support in WIsconsin for raising taxes on rich, poll shows

The poll results show that Wisconsin residents are alarmed about growing levels of income inequality and the widening chasm between the highest earners and everyone else. Wisconsin residents are right to be concerned. The share of income in Wisconsin going to the top 1% has reached its highest level ever, exceeding even levels reached prior to the Great Depression, and has more than doubled over the last 40 years. Read more

A Bipartisan Option for Promoting Work & Reducing Inequality

Thursday, April 21, 2016 at 3:46 PM by

An Increased EITC for Childless Adults Would Reduce Poverty and Enjoys Bipartisan Support

Income inequality has been on the minds of many voters during the presidential primaries. If you think it’s only a concern of Democrats, take a look at the results of the most recent “Wisconsin Survey” – a St. Norbert’s poll conducted for Wisconsin Public Radio and Wisconsin Public Television. The survey last week of 616 registered Wisconsin voters found that 66% favor “increasing taxes on wealthy Americans and large corporations in order to help reduce income inequality in the U.S.,” compared to only 28% who said they were opposed.

There are lots of different ways to adjust taxes (and labor policy) to reduce income inequality. Unfortunately, most of those – such as closing corporate tax loopholes and increasing the minimum wage – have little chance in Congress right now.  But one promising policy option that does have a chance is to provide a significant increase in the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for adults who don’t have dependent children. Read more

Categories: Blog, EITC, federal issues, income inequality, income taxes, poverty, refundable tax credits, taxes | Comments Off on A Bipartisan Option for Promoting Work & Reducing Inequality

Wisconsin’s Electorate and Economy: What the National Media Should Know

Tuesday, March 29, 2016 at 10:28 AM by

National attention has turned to Wisconsin because our presidential primary on April 5th is the only one in the next week. It’s also a significant primary because the percentage turnout is likely to be higher than in any other state since the New Hampshire primary.

For reporters and others who are trying to understand some of the demographic, economic and political context for the April 5th election, we’ve pulled together a variety of facts about Wisconsin and how it compares to other states.  Here are a few highlights from that data: Read more

Categories: economy, EDUCATION, income, income inequality, jobs | Comments Off on Wisconsin’s Electorate and Economy: What the National Media Should Know

Five Delicious Pie Charts for Pi Day

Monday, March 14, 2016 at 2:00 AM by

Happy Pi Day! Today’s date is 3-14, a close approximation of the pi value of 3.141592…

The best way to celebrate Pi Day is – news flash! – to eat some pie.

Pie

Jon and Tamarine celebrate Pi Day. Mmmmm…strawberry rhubarb!

The second best way of observing Pi Day is to enjoy some delicious pie charts. Sure, pie charts don’t go nearly as well with ice cream as the real thing, but they’re still enjoyable.

Here are five pie charts that tell the story of poverty and economic hardship in Wisconsin, and how the share of the pie that goes to the middle class is shrinking.

Pie Chart #1: Highest earners capture nearly all of the income growth in Wisconsin

Nearly all income growth has gone to the top 1%

Wisconsin families and businesses can’t thrive when income growth is nearly non-existent for everyone except for those at the very top. The share of income in Wisconsin going to the top 1% is at its highest level ever, widening the chasm between the very highest earners and everyone else, and posing a hardship for Wisconsin’s families, communities, and businesses. Read more

Categories: Blog, ECONOMIC SECURITY, income inequality, JOBS & THE ECONOMY, minimum wage, poverty | Comments Off on Five Delicious Pie Charts for Pi Day