Election Results Show Broad Support for increasing Minimum Wage, in Wisconsin and Elsewhere
Voters in Wisconsin and across the country showed extensive support on Tuesday for increasing the minimum wage, by approving ballot measures calling for raises for the lowest-paid workers.
Across Wisconsin, 67% of voters approved raising the minimum wage to $10.10 from its current level of $7.25. The non-binding referendum was on the ballot in nine counties and four cities where local officials voted to include it.
The measure to increase Wisconsin’s minimum wage passed with flying colors even in solidly red parts of the state. For example, in Wood County, voters favored Governor Walker over Mary Burke by a wide margin, giving Walker 57% of their votes. But the Wood County electorate also showed strong support for increasing the minimum wage, with 56% of voters approving the measure.
The minimum wage proved to be a winning issue in other states as well. Voters in four states and two cities approved binding measures to increase the minimum wage and give an estimated 609,000 low-wage workers a raise next year.
The National Employment Law Project has information on the ballot measures in other states and cities:
Alaskans voted to raise the state’s minimum wage from its current $7.75 to $8.75 in 2015 and $9.75 in 2016, and index it to inflation. Returns indicate the measure was supported by more than 68 percent of voters.
In Arkansas, 65 percent of voters approved a ballot measure to raise the state’s minimum wage to $7.50 in 2015, $8.00 in 2016 and $8.50 in 2017.
Nebraskans passed a measure raising the state’s minimum wage to $8.00 in 2015 and to $9.00 in 2016, with 59 percent of voters approving.
In South Dakota, 54.9 percent of voters approved a state minimum wage increase to $8.50 per hour, effective January 1, 2015, and index future increases to account for inflation.
In Oakland, California, 80 percent of voters approved a citywide raise in the minimum wage, to $12.25 per hour, effective March 2, 2015.
And 76 percent of voters in San Francisco voted to enact a four-step increase in the citywide minimum wage from its current $10.74 per hour to $15 in 2018.
In addition to the binding measures in other states, voters in Illinois approved a non-binding referendum calling on lawmakers to increase the minimum wage to $10.
Tuesday’s elections results show that voters from across the political spectrum – both in Wisconsin and in other states – support increasing the minimum wage. The conservative lawmakers that control Wisconsin’s state government have shown little interest in taking action on this issue, but perhaps Tuesday’s vote will demonstrate that support for increasing the minimum wage extends beyond political boundaries.