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Midwest Economic Policy Institute

A Higher Road for a Better Tomorrow

Prevailing Wage Repeal Could COST Wisconsin Taxpayers Over $300 Million Per Year

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  June 19, 2017

CONTACT:  Todd Stenhouse, toddstenhouse@gmail.com, 916-397-1131


Analysis of studies cited by advocates of prevailing wage repeal highlights massive social costs

Madison:  While critics of Wisconsin’s prevailing wage law have long claimed that repeal would save money by cutting the wages of blue-collar construction workers, a Midwest Economic Policy Institute (MEPI) analysis of two reports frequently cited to support the claims of prevailing wage critics shows that repeal could actually cost Wisconsin taxpayers over $300 million each year.

Read the Report, entitled “The Social Cost of Repealing Wisconsin’s Prevailing Wage Law” here.

For its study, MEPI examined how construction wage cuts would affect overall state tax revenues and reliance on five different government assistance programs utilizing the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance’s recent claim of a 44% cut, and a 2015 Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau analysis that suggested repeal of prevailing would reduce wages by 14.1%.

“If an entire segment of Wisconsin’s blue-collar workforce faced a wage cut of 14% to 44%, it would mean thousands more Wisconsin workers would be on government assistance, and Wisconsin’s state government would have significantly less tax revenue to pay for these benefits,” said MEPI Policy Director Frank Manzo IV.  “Using the wage cut figures promised by the law’s critics, we can assess that prevailing wage repeal would impose a potential social cost to Wisconsin taxpayers of hundreds of millions of dollars each year—without producing any real savings in total project costs.” Continue reading “Prevailing Wage Repeal Could COST Wisconsin Taxpayers Over $300 Million Per Year”

Construction Fatalities Cost the United States $5 Billion Per Year

The construction industry is one of the most dangerous industries in the United States. Construction workers face a wide range of hazards when they arrive on the job site each workday, including large equipment, heavy supplies, height hazards, and long hours. It is important that construction workers are well trained and highly skilled in order to limit on-the-job injuries and fatalities.

NEW REPORT: The $5 Billion Cost of Construction Fatalities in the United States: A 50 State Comparison

Over the past four decades, OSHA and its state partners have worked with labor unions, employers, and safety and health advocates to increase workplace safety. Many employers and contractors put their workers through training and safety programs to ensure workers are prepared for job sites. Safety and health programs encourage a proactive approach to finding and fixing job site hazards before they cause injury or illness. Today, workers are less likely to die on-the-job than they were 40 years ago due to workplace safety efforts.

However, there is still room for improvement. A new report by the Midwest Economic Policy Institute (MEPI) finds that a total of 4,339 construction workers lost their lives at work from 2011 through 2015. This means that an average of 867.8 construction workers suffered a workplace fatality per year, or about 16 construction workers every week across the nation. Continue reading “Construction Fatalities Cost the United States $5 Billion Per Year”

What Are Road Construction Costs Per Lane Mile in Your State?

States play a significant role in the construction and maintenance of the country’s roadway system. Each state employs its own approach and objectives when planning and constructing highway infrastructure, including addressing obstacles and environments unique to that state.  A recent report by the Midwest Economic Policy Institute explores the highway construction costs for each state and more closely examines them throughout the Midwest.

Full Report:  A Comparison of Highway Construction Costs in the Midwest and Nationally

The figure below summarizes each state’s highway construction, right-of-way (ROW) acquisition, and engineering costs per lane mile.  This analysis provides an illustration of how construction costs compare between states; however, as stated above, each state encounters its own unique complications that factor into overall costs.  Therefore, it cannot be exclusively used as a definition of cost effectiveness.  Continue reading “What Are Road Construction Costs Per Lane Mile in Your State?”

Proposed Prevailing Wage Changes Would Hurt the Ohio Economy

A new study finds that weakening or repealing Ohio’s prevailing wage standard is unlikely to save taxpayer dollars. In fact, a weaker policy would increase taxpayer burdens as construction worker incomes decrease and their reliance on public assistance increases. A weaker law would also mean fewer resources for apprenticeship training in this fast-growing sector, less work for Ohio businesses and Ohio workers, and negative overall impacts on the Ohio economy.

The study was conducted by researchers at Kent State University, Bowling Green State University, Colorado State University-Pueblo, and the Midwest Economic Policy Institute.

Continue reading “Proposed Prevailing Wage Changes Would Hurt the Ohio Economy”

“Right-to-Work” Laws in the Midwest Have Reduced Unionization and Lowered Wages

Taken from Illinois Update and the Illinois Economic Policy Institute (ILEPI).


A new study finds that the introduction of “right-to-work” laws has reduced the unionization rate by 2.1 percentage points and lowered worker wages by 2.6% in Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Continue reading ““Right-to-Work” Laws in the Midwest Have Reduced Unionization and Lowered Wages”

The Need for Skilled Construction Workers: Alabama vs. Missouri

Construction is one of the fastest growing industries in the United States.
Demand for skilled construction workers is evident across the country, with the industry now fully recovered from the Great Recession. However, approximately one-third of all construction workers across the nation are over the age of 50. Young workers are not entering the construction workforce as fast as those who are leaving, resulting in a deficit in the “replacement rate.”

Let’s take the case study of Alabama.

Alabama is not immune to the need for high-skilled workers. Continue reading “The Need for Skilled Construction Workers: Alabama vs. Missouri”

HB 1002: Investing in Indiana’s Future

Indiana is well-positioned to improve its transportation infrastructure. Providing further investment in the network would support business growth and a thriving economy.   Continue reading “HB 1002: Investing in Indiana’s Future”

How the Decline of Unions Has Caused Inequality to Rise in Each Midwest State

A new report finds that union decline has resulted in economic redistribution from workers to owners.

Continue reading “How the Decline of Unions Has Caused Inequality to Rise in Each Midwest State”

The High Cost of Construction Injuries and Fatalities

A new Economic Commentary [PDF] released by the Midwest Economic Policy Institute compares the working conditions of 5 Midwest construction labor markets: Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. The report finds that worker fatalities result in high economic burdens for Midwest states, but that Minnesota has the safest construction industry out of the 5 states.

Continue reading “The High Cost of Construction Injuries and Fatalities”

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