Wisconsin’s Lagging Income Growth Boosts Federal Share of Medicaid Costs

Wednesday, October 4, 2017 at 5:37 PM by

A state’s lagging economic performance can have a silver lining – in the form of increased federal assistance. Thanks to a Medicaid formula that currently provides more generous cost-sharing to states that are below average in per capita income, Wisconsin’s rather anemic personal income growth will save the state millions of dollars during the 2017-19 budget period.

However, that feature of Medicaid funding allocations could be gone in a few years if Congress approves the recent Republican proposals that would block grant or cap each state’s allocation. Read more

New Census Data Show Continued Gains from the ACA

Tuesday, September 12, 2017 at 6:28 PM by

Insurance Coverage Also Improves in Wisconsin, but More Slowly than in Medicaid Expansion States

The number of Wisconsinites who do not have health insurance fell sharply during the first three years of implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), according to new survey data released today by the U.S. Census Bureau. Approximately 218,000 fewer Wisconsin residents were uninsured last year than in 2013, a decline of 42 percent.

Wisconsin is still among the top ten states in the percentage of people with insurance, but our state’s rank has been slipping. We went from being tied for 7th best in 2015 to a tie for 10th best last year.  In 2016, Kentucky, West Virginia, Connecticut and Rhode Island all surpassed or tied Wisconsin’s rate of insurance coverage. Read more

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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

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

The State of Working Wisconsin 2015

Monday, September 7, 2015 at 9:00 AM by

A new report issued in conjunction with the Labor Day weekend by COWS provides a thorough examination of Wisconsin job numbers, wages, poverty, and job quality, and it provides a sobering assessment of how working people in Wisconsin are doing:

Wisconsin faces slow growth, extreme racial disparity in unemployment, long-term stagnation in wages, and one-fourth of workers struggling in poverty-wage jobs.” 

The new COWS report – The State of Working Wisconsin 2015 – illustrates that as the national economy has gradually rebounded following the Great Recession, Wisconsin’s job growth has lagged behind.  COWS’ analysis concludes that “if Wisconsin had enjoyed the same rate of job growth as the rest of the nation across the course of the recovery, the state would have 90,000 more jobs today.”  The national growth rate from January 2011 through June of this year was 60% faster than the job growth Wisconsin experienced during that time..  Read more

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Pay Gap Widens Further, and Policy Choices Exacerbate the Problem

Monday, June 29, 2015 at 6:59 PM by

Compensation of CEOs at major U.S. firms continues to skyrocket, according to a new report by the Economic Policy Institute. To some extent that trend can probably be attributed to broad economic forces, but policy choices at the national and state level also contribute to the huge disparities in income and wealth.   

The EPI report was interesting reading today – against the backdrop of Assembly GOP leaders announcing a plan for substantially reducing the prevailing wage law for public sector projects and releasing the details of a Bucks arena plan that will be a boon to the team’s very wealthy owners and players.  Those two issue areas are great illustrations of how public policy decisions can exacerbate the widening income gap. And once the budget process resumes, we will learn whether legislative leaders plan to compound the problem by proceeding with a proposal to reduce taxes on very high income Wisconsinites by reducing or eliminating the alternative minimum tax – even as the budget makes cuts that will hurt low-income state residents.   Read more

Categories: Blog, income, income inequality | Comments Off on Pay Gap Widens Further, and Policy Choices Exacerbate the Problem

“Right to Work” Bill Would Suppress Wisconsin’s Already Anemic Wages

Monday, February 23, 2015 at 7:32 PM by

Though researchers disagree on the effects of “right to work” legislation on the number of jobs, what is quite clear is that such laws suppress wages.  Now that legislative leaders have suddenly put a so-called “right to work” (RTW) bill on a very fast track, I hope legislators will take a careful look at a couple of recent studies that examine the economic effects and warn against following the path of the states that have approved RTW laws

A recent report by Dr. Abdur Chowdhury, who teaches economics at Marquette, reached the following conclusion about the effects on Wisconsin income and state taxes:  

The potential net loss in direct income to Wisconsin workers and their families due to a RTW legislation is between $3.89 and $4.82 billion annually. Using a conservative estimate of an impact multiplier of 1.5, the total direct and induced loss of a RTW legislation is estimated between $5.84 and $7.23 billion annually. Read more

Categories: Blog, economy, income, jobs, JOBS & THE ECONOMY | Comments Off on “Right to Work” Bill Would Suppress Wisconsin’s Already Anemic Wages

Wisconsin Representatives Bucking the Tide on Wage Laws

Monday, February 17, 2014 at 6:09 PM by
State and local policymakers in many parts of the country are coming to the conclusion that too many workers get paid too little, and they are pushing for higher wage standards for workers. Yet in Wisconsin, lawmakers are moving in the opposite direction.
Categories: Blog, income, jobs | Comments Off on Wisconsin Representatives Bucking the Tide on Wage Laws

Minimum Wage Increase Enjoys Broad Public Support

Monday, November 11, 2013 at 7:29 PM by

Gallup poll conducted last week found strong public support for boosting the minimum wage (now $7.25/hr.) to $9.00 per hour.  That change was supported by 76% of Americans, with only 22% opposed.   Here are a few of the other highlights from the national survey of 1,040 adults:

  • The support was solid across the political spectrum – with the backing of 58% of Republicans, 76% of Independents, and 91 % of Democrats. 
  • Support wasn’t quite as strong for indexing the minimum wage for inflation (after raising it to $9), yet that was endorsed by 68% of adults and opposed by 29%.
  • Public support for an increase to $9.00 was up 5 percentage points since early March, when 71% were in favor and 27% against the proposal.

The national poll was conducted by Gallup last week at about the same time that 61% of New Jersey voters supported an amendment to that state’s constitution to raise the minimum wage $1 to $8.25 and index it for inflation (even as they reelected Governor Christie, who had opposed that measure).   Read more

Categories: Blog, ECONOMIC SECURITY, income, jobs, JOBS & THE ECONOMY | Comments Off on Minimum Wage Increase Enjoys Broad Public Support