State Chamber of Comm. says minimum wage hike will cost jobs

MADISON (WITI) -- The debate over whether a minimum wage increase would help or hurt Wisconsin's economy was raging again at the state Capitol in Madison on Wednesday, March 5th. The state's Chamber of Commerce is releasing new numbers showing the potential impact on jobs.

The battle to increase the minimum wage is being fought at the state Capitol by protesters and politicians.

Now, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, the state's largest business group is pushing back with a survey of its own -- showing a minimum wage hike could cost Wisconsin 27,000 jobs.

"If government passes a mandate that increases the labor costs for businesses, businesses are going to respond by cutting jobs, cutting hours or hiring fewer workers, so really what it means is diminished economic opportunities for our workers," Scott Manley, Vice President of Government Relations for Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce said.

Scot Ross with One Wisconsin Now, a non-profit, non-partisan advocacy organization, says WMC's survey doesn't reflect public opinion.

"Their science is the very definition of junk science. The fact is that people support an increase in the minimum wage because they know that putting more money into the economy is going to create more jobs," Ross said.

Rep. Cory Mason (D-Racine) introduced legislation that would increase Wisconsin's minimum wage from $7.25-an-hour to $10.10-an-hour.

"This is something that's fair. It's modest," Rep. Mason said.

In late January, while speaking in Waukesha, President Barack Obama threw his support behind the Wisconsin effort.

"There are efforts in cities and states -- which I support by the way, like the one here in Wisconsin," President Obama said.

Gov. Scott Walker is against the idea of increasing the minimum wage.

"There are negative consequences in employment opportunities when the minimum wage is increased, it has a tendency to hurt the individuals that the minimum wage proponents are trying to help," Bill Smith, the National Federation of Independent Business Wisconsin State Director said.

"Small business owners in Wisconsin recognize that having more money in the economy, having workers have more money means they're going to spend more money on products and services these businesses provide to the community," Ross said.

The Wisconsin minimum wage bill is not likely to be voted on anytime soon.

Related stories: