Saturday, October 11, 2014

It's not a "work problem", Scotty. It's a pay problem

I was out with the wife and friends at an event last night, so I didn't see the guv's debate live. However, I did some Twitter-watching of it (which in many ways is better- less BS from commentators, less anger from watching Walker lies and deceptions on the TV). I noticed this one statement from Walker stood out. Even better to hear his buddy Dan Bice be the one to bring it up.

In addition to the offensiveness of Walker seeming to blame unemployment on "lazy Wisconsinites," this line is simply not true. As I've mentioned many times on this site over the last couple of years, when it comes to manufacturing and many other jobs in Wisconsin, we don't have a "skills gap" that keeps employers from filling jobs. WE HAVE A WAGE GAP.

Let's go to last month's release of the Quarterly Census on Employment and Wages, and you'll see we've made no progress in this state in closing the wage gap we have with other Midwestern states when it comes to paying people in manufacturing.

Average weekly manufacturing wage, Q1 2014
Ill. $1,366
Mich $1,301
Minn $1,213
Ind. $1,188
Ohio $1,137
Wis. $1,065
Iowa $1,032

The average wage in three of the state bordering ours are paying $4-$7 an hour more. Gee, you think THAT might be a problem in finding empoyees, because the ones with mobility and skills are attracted by getting paid what they're worth? And Wisconsin has been falling further behind in this wage gap over the last year.

12-month change in average weekly manu. wage, Q1 2014
Ill. +4.1%
Minn +2.9%
Iowa +2.4%
Ohio +2.4%
Mich +2.0%
Wis. +1.2%
Ind. +0.8%

You think if Wisconsin workers were getting 3-4% raises, like they are across the border in Minnesota and Illinois, they might be more likely to want to go into those professions? Of course they would! Scotty may have been kicked out of school before he got to this lesson, but supply and demand works for workers as well.

Then again, Scotty's advice on running a business comes from "Wisconsin Manufacturers" like this, who have never worked a day on the floor in their lives. Yes, it's an oldie, but it's still a goodie, and still very relevant.

Yes, private sector employees, you're being divided and conquered by Walker, too. And he'll only be worse if you give him a second term.

Let's see if Dems have the guts to make wages an issue in the last 3 1/2 weeks before Election Day, because Walker is wide open to get hit on it. And his gaffe during last night's debate brought it back into focus.

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