Just the Facts
on the Dane County Living Wage Campaign

A report issued in January by the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families found that the wages of the bottom fifth of Wisconsin workers fell by nearly 20% between 1976-78 and 1992-94.

The US Department of Agriculture estimates it would take a wage of $11.94 per hour to provide a "thrifty" diet for a family of three (Mayer, Susan E. "What is a Living Wage?" University of Chicago, 1993).

Even with the recent increase, a person working a minimum wage job today still earns only 63% of the federally established poverty level for a family of four.

The current minimum wage is fifteen percent below its average purchasing power in the 1970s, after adjusting for inflation (Center on Budget Priorities. "Assessing a $5.15 an hour minimum wage." March, 1996).

Median housing costs in Dane County are 9.3 percent higher than the State as a whole.

McDonald's starts workers at $7.00 an hour in Madison. Workers at some county-funded agencies that provide attendant care for the disabled start at $5.95 without health benefits.

According to an employee survey by the Madison Area Rehabilitation Center, 70% of its workers hold second jobs to make ends meet. Eight percent have three jobs.

In 1979, 25 percent of the labor force in Wisconsin was paid poverty level wages or worse. In 1993, 35 percent of Wisconsin's workforce earned these extremely low wages, an increase of 40 percent over the 1979-93 period. (Dresser, Laura, Joel Rogers and Julie Whittaker. "The State of Working Wisconsin." Center on Wisconsin Strategy, 1993)

For more information call 256-5111 or 257-4985


The Baltimore Experience

In Baltimore, where a living wage ordinance was passed in 1994, the real cost of city contracts has actually decreased since the law went into effect.

The cost to Baltimore taxpayers has been about 17 cents per person annually.

Of those contractors who held contracts both before and after the Living Wage ordinance took effect, none reported laying off workers.

There is no evidence that business has responeded negatively to the passage of the ordinance. In fact, the value of new business investment has increased in the year following the passage. Weisbrot, Mark and Michelle Sforza-Roderick. "Baltimore's Living Wage Law." The Preamble Center for Public Policy 1996


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