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Gov's Minimum Wage Hike Plan Will Damage Already Bleak Job Hopes For Wisconsin's Less-Skilled Adults, Says Employment Policies Institute.

WASHINGTON, March 2 /PRNewswire/ -- As Governor Doyle's minimum wage council recommends raising Wisconsin's minimum wage by $1.35, the jobs picture for less-skilled adults remains bleak, and will not be helped by making it harder for employers to hire them, Craig Garthwaite, chief economist at the Employment Policies Institute (EPI) said today.

In the second half of last year, the nation's leisure and hospitality industry -- a significant indicator of entry-level job growth -- created 75,000 new jobs. Yet Wisconsin lost 8,600 such jobs during that same time, according to the Department of Labor.

"Wisconsin's less-skilled employees are struggling to get jobs at the existing minimum wage, yet Gov. Doyle plans to use the recommendation of this overwhelmingly anti-business panel as an excuse for a minimum wage hike, making it harder still for them to find work," said Mr. Garthwaite. "Scores of studies show that minimum wage hikes result in less-skilled adults losing out to better-qualified applicants who are attracted to the higher hourly wage and who are more attractive to employers seeking to offset higher labor costs."

Research out of the University of Wisconsin found that this effect is especially pronounced for women on welfare. "Mothers on welfare in states that raised their minimum wage left welfare for work 20 percent less often than welfare recipients in states where the minimum wage was not raised," the study's author, Dr. Peter Brandon, concluded.

"Gov. Doyle holds the fate of many less-skilled adults in his hands at a time when they already find it hard to get work. Raising Wisconsin's minimum wage will place these workers even further from the kind of new opportunities being created around the nation," Garthwaite said.

The Employment Policies Institute is a nonprofit research organization dedicated to studying public policy issues surrounding entry-level employment.

CONTACT: For additional information or to schedule an interview: Barnaby Towns of Employment Policies Institute, +1-202-463-7650

Web site: http://www.epionline.org/
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Date:Mar 2, 2004
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