July 15, 2024 2:25 am
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Despite Signs of Growth, Wisconsin Wages Struggle to Keep Pace with the Nation


Mohamed Bughrara

Despite the average hourly wage paid to private sector workers in Wisconsin increasing to an average of 3.9% towards the end of 2021, Wisconsin still placed in the bottom 15 of all states when it came to wage growth.

The average hourly wage in October 2021 was $28.80, an increase of 97 cents from 2020. This growth was at an average rate of 3.9% – the best three-month stretch for the state since the summer of 2020.

According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2020, Wisconsin experienced an increase in hourly wages of 3.4%, 4.5% and 3.8% from August-October respectively. Wisconsin still ranked 37th in wage growth within that span.   

When accounting for the number of weekly hours worked, Wisconsin’s wage picture shows more growth. The state has averaged a 4.8 percent growth over the last three months of 2021, placing it in the middle of the pack at 26th nationwide. 

As of October 2021, Wisconsin’s unemployment rate dropped to 3.2 percent, but businesses continue to say they are struggling to find and retain workers. In August, 95,000 people departed their jobs in the state, and 90,000 quit in September, the greatest numbers ever reported. These numbers come despite more than 200,000 job postings in the state since June 2021. 

According to Wisconsin’s Department of Revenue February 2022 report, wage projections are expected to hit north of 8 percent, which is still slightly lower than the nation’s projected average of 9.4 percent, but still great strides for the state.   

The Biden administration has also taken steps to increase wages. Infrastructure investments approved by Congress will fund projects that will create well-paying jobs. To protect American workers, the Biden administration has taken steps to protect them from wage theft, and implement a $15 minimum wage for federal contractors. These plans could prove to have a lasting impact for Wisconsin workers in the near future.