At a meeting with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editorial board on Tuesday, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) was asked whether there should be a minimum wage. He responded, “I’m not going to repeal it, but I don’t think it serves a purpose.”
He went on to say that he doesn’t want to debate the lowest levels people can make, but instead, he said, “I want people to get jobs that make two or three times that.”
Walker may want to focus on creating jobs that make more than minimum wage, but his administration has also determined that $7.25, the federal level and the state’s current minimum, is a living wage. Low-wage workers had filed complaints with the administration, saying that $7.25 or even as much as $12 isn’t enough to live on in the state, which they said violates a state statute that the minimum wage amount to a living wage. The Department of Workforce Development issued a statement saying that their wages were enough to live on, in part because they said they need to buy “items that go beyond basic necessities” and because some receive public assistance.
The minimum wage used to be able to keep a family of two or even three out of poverty, but today’s wage won’t even keep a single parent above that threshold. A living wage in Wisconsin’s capitol city, for example, would have to be more than $21 an hour for a single parent. The federal wage would be more than $10 an hour today if it had kept up with inflation over past decades and more than $20 an hour if it had kept up with gains in workers’ productivity.