Milwaukee Common Council OKs ‘living wage’ increase


By Adam Tobias | Wisconsin Reporter

MILWAUKEE, Wis. — It could’ve been much more expensive for Milwaukee taxpayers.

WAGE HIKE: The Milwaukee Common Council has adopted an ordinance raising the city’s minimum wage from $9.51 to $10.80 next year.

But it’s still going to hit them in the pocketbooks.

The Milwaukee Common Council on Tuesday adopted an ordinance raising the minimum wage for all city employees and workers under service contracts with the city.

Milwaukee’s hourly “living wage” will go from $9.51 to $10.10 shortly after the ordinance is signed into law. The hourly rate will increase to $10.80 starting March 1, 2015.

Alderman Ashanti Hamilton, the lead sponsor of the ordinance, had initially proposed raising the minimum wage to $11.47 an hour next year, but the Milwaukee Finance and Personnel Committee, which met earlier Tuesday, was able to reach a compromise on a smaller wage hike.

The cost to taxpayers over the next year and a half is projected at $141,223 to $221,139, according to estimates prepared by Mary Turke, a former Milwaukee legislative fiscal analysis who now works for the city’s employee retirement department.

At $11.47 an hour, taxpayer expenses would’ve been $245,131 to $366,459.

Hamilton hasn’t responded to questions from Wisconsin Reporter on how he plans to pay for the added costs.

Anthony Davies, a Mercatus Center-affiliated senior scholar at George Mason University and an associate professor of economics at Duquesne University, warns the wage increase, in addition to costing taxpayers, could lead to cuts in work hours and benefits.

Minimum wage hikes also can price marginal workers with less education and job experience out of labor markets, Davies said.

“The people who are hurt are hurt far more badly than the people who are helped are helped,” Davies told Wisconsin Reporter.