- March 22, 2023
- Pablo Aquiles-Sanchez, and Laura Dresser
Over the past 40 years, the union manufacturing jobs that once flourished in Milwaukee have been replaced by low-wage, non-union service jobs, exacerbating racial and economic disparities. Properly addressing the intertwined issues of declining union and manufacturing jobs and growing racial disparity starts with restructuring the city’s service sector. In this report, we take a deep look into the city’s service jobs across multiple industries and occupations. We also hear from workers themselves on what is empowering them and what remains unaddressed on the city’s economic frontlines.
Premium pay for frontline workers (often referred to as “hero pay”) is one of the ways state and local governments can use American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds. This toolkit is a comprehensive guide to premium pay – who can get it and how it works – with policy recommendations, supporting data, and relevant examples from across the country. It is intended for policy advocates and policymakers alike.
As workers struggle to keep up with rising costs, Louisiana continues to be one of only five states without a state minimum wage. This means many workers in our state continue to work for the $7.25 federal minimum wage, which has not been raised since 2009. Over the last 13 years, increases in the cost of living have eroded the purchasing power of that $7.25 by about 25%.
- February 16, 2022
- Laura Dresser, Pablo Aquiles-Sanchez, and Adam Kanter
There’s a crisis in service work in Milwaukee. Too many of these jobs—in food service, janitorial work, security services, and human and health services—offer low wages, inadequate and often unpredictable hours, and benefits packages that are usually weak, if they exist at all. For Milwaukee, these jobs have been a sorry replacement for the good union manufacturing jobs that once defined opportunity in the city. This economic transformation has especially damaged Milwaukee’s Black community, resulting in extreme racial disparity.
All of this was well documented before COVID-19. In the last two years, the underlying crisis in these jobs has been exposed and it has grown. Until we build a strong, consistent floor of better wages, more predictable hours, and stronger benefits in these jobs, the crisis will continue.
The City of Milwaukee can help to lead this effort. In every aspect of policy, the City can seek to strengthen job quality, raise labor standards, and support and build a high-road approach to service work in the city