With Right to Work law, Wisconsin’s economy lags behind Minnesota

06.01.18

With Right to Work law, Wisconsin’s economy lags behind Minnesota

The rivalry between the Gopher state and Badger state has run deep for years. As northern Midwestern neighbors, Minnesota and Wisconsin share a lot in common. But as the states’ governors took office eights years ago, they had different agendas for their states, and, as a recent study from the Economic Policy Institute shows, they had very different outcomes. Minnesotans will be proud to know that since 2010, their economy has far exceeded Wisconsin’s, particularly for working families. It’s no coincidence that this comes in the wake of Wisconsin enacting Right to Work legislation, a dangerous policy that doesn’t just weaken unions, but the entire middle class.

Right to Work laws allow workers to reap all the benefits of being in a union – professionally-negotiated wages, good benefits and countless others – without paying union dues. This decreases union participation, meaning less funding, weakening its ability to support employees in bargaining for better wages, benefits or working conditions (Gould and Kimball 2015). The passage of Wisconsin’s Right to Work law dramatically decreased union participation, and according the report, “this almost certainly dampened wage growth, and it likely contributed to the state’s weaker income growth and slower progress reducing poverty.”

What’s clear from the report is the lasting impacts of a vote, particularly for working people. By voting for candidates that support union-friendly policies, you’re voting for a strong middle class and economic prosperity for working people.

More excerpts from the report’s finding include:

  • Job growth since December 2010 has been markedly stronger in Minnesota than Wisconsin, with Minnesota experiencing 11.0 percent growth in total non-farm employment, compared with only 7.9 percent growth in Wisconsin. Minnesota’s job growth was better than Wisconsin’s in the overall private sector (12.5 percent vs. 9.7 percent) and in higher-wage industries, such as construction (38.6 percent vs. 26.0 percent) and education and health care (17.3 percent vs. 11.0 percent).
  • From 2010 to 2017, wages grew faster in Minnesota than in Wisconsin at every decile in the wage distribution. Low-wage workers experienced much stronger growth in Minnesota than Wisconsin, with inflation-adjusted wages at the 10th and 20th percentile rising by 8.6 percent and 9.7 percent, respectively, in Minnesota vs. 6.3 percent and 6.4 percent in Wisconsin.
  • Gender wage gaps also shrank more in Minnesota than in Wisconsin. From 2010 to 2017, women’s median wage as a share of men’s median wage rose by 3.0 percentage points in Minnesota, and by 1.5 percentage points in Wisconsin.
  • Median household income in Minnesota grew by 7.2 percent from 2010 to 2016. In Wisconsin, it grew by 5.1 percent over the same period. Median family income exhibited a similar pattern, growing 8.5 percent in Minnesota compared with 6.4 percent in Wisconsin.
  • Minnesota made greater progress than Wisconsin in reducing overall poverty, child poverty, and poverty as measured under the Census Bureau’s Supplemental Poverty Measure. As of 2016, the overall poverty rate in Wisconsin as measured in the American Community Survey (11.8 percent) was still roughly as high as the poverty rate in Minnesota at its peak in the wake of the Great Recession (11.9 percent, in 2011).
  • Minnesota residents were more likely to have health insurance than their counterparts in Wisconsin, with stronger insurance take-up of both public and private health insurance since 2010.
  • From 2010 to 2017, Minnesota has had stronger overall economic growth (12.8 percent vs. 10.1 percent), stronger growth per worker (3.4 percent vs. 2.7 percent), and stronger population growth (5.1 percent vs. 1.9 percent) than Wisconsin. In fact, over the whole period—as well as in the most recent year—more people have been moving out of Wisconsin to other states than have been moving in from elsewhere in the U.S. The same is not true of Minnesota.

Register to vote in Minnesota here.

Read the full report here.