A new study conducted by the Midwest Economic Policy Institute, the School for Workers at the University of Wisconsin–Extension, and the Project for Middle Class Renewal at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, evaluates the impact that labor union membership has on a worker’s hourly wage in Wisconsin and in the United States. A key finding in the report, The State of the Unions 2017: A Profile of Unionization in Wisconsin and in the United States, indicates that unionization benefits low-income and middle-class workers most in Wisconsin, helping to foster a strong middle class and reduce income inequality.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 19, 2017
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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”
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.
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”
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.
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?”
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”
A new report finds that union decline has resulted in economic redistribution from workers to owners.
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.
Transportation infrastructure is essential for economic growth. In order to maintain quality transportation infrastructure, sustainable funding is imperative. An Economic Commentary [PDF] by the Midwest Economic Policy Institute explores the role of the motor fuel tax both nationally and internationally. The United States currently suffers from insufficient funding due to a broken system. Without changes, more and more roads, bridges, and public transit systems will fall into disrepair.
The primary source of transportation funding in the United States is the motor fuel tax – also known as the gas tax or fuel tax. The federal gasoline and diesel taxes currently stand at 18.4 cents and 24.4-cents per gallon, respectively.
The revenue collected from federal fuel taxes is deposited into the Highway Trust Fund (HTF). While fuel taxes previously served as the primary source of funding for the HTF, comprising over 80 percent of its funding between 1995 and 2007, they have proven to be an unsustainable revenue source in recent years. Between 2008 and 2014, the HTF received $65 billion from the U.S. Treasury’s general fund to meet the fund’s obligations, since annual spending for highways and transit began to exceed the revenues generated. Continue reading “Gas Taxes are Unsustainable for Transportation Infrastructure Needs”
A new Midwest Economic Policy Institute (MEPI) Economic Commentary [PDF] compares the quality of roads and bridges in three Midwest states: Wisconsin, Illinois, and Iowa.
The data show that Illinois has the best overall road and bridge quality of the three states. Wisconsin comes in second, while Iowa has the worst road and bridge quality.
Wisconsin’s roads are in need of improvement, and the state must decide which neighbor it wants to be resemble more. Currently, about 21 percent of public, major roads throughout Wisconsin are in poor condition and 14 percent of bridges are in need of repair. Furthermore, a Wisconsin driver in the Madison area loses 36 hours a year in congestion and Wisconsin motorists spend a total of $6 billion in vehicle costs every year due to congestion and traffic crashes. Traffic fatalities increased also by 13 percent from 2014 to 2015. Continue reading “How Should Wisconsin Improve Its Road and Bridge Quality?”