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Wages for Michigan men plummet, women’s wages stagnate
LANSING, Mich. – With the minimum wage set to increase Monday to $8.15 an hour, a new report highlights the need to increase low-wage salaries even more to close the gender wage gap and reverse wage losses in Michigan.
The Labor Day report, released by the Michigan League for Public Policy, finds that Michigan has the seventh-highest gender wage gap in the country, despite dramatic wage losses for men since 1979 and stagnating or modest increases for women.
One way to curb these wage trends and help narrow the gender wage gap is to raise the minimum wage and eliminate the tipped wage. A minimum wage increase helps more female workers because they hold large shares of low-wage jobs such as child care and food service.
“Monday’s minimum wage increase is a step in the right direction but does not go far enough to close this gap,’’ said Gilda Z. Jacobs, president and CEO of the Michigan League for Public Policy. “There are no winners in a gender wage gap. Narrowing the wage gap based on wage losses for men hurts not only them, but also women. The same factors that hurt men’s wages also pose a threat to women’s improved wages.”
In Michigan, women earn only 74 cents for each dollar earned by a male.
The Labor Day report found that workers in Michigan suffered the most dramatic wage declines in the Midwest, with especially large losses for low-wage workers. Between 1979 and 2013, wages for Michigan workers dropped 13.4 percent for those in the low-wage category.
Workers without postsecondary education were particularly affected. High school graduates’ wages dove 32.1 percent and wages for those who did not complete a high school education plunged 46.3 percent.
“These are dramatic wage drops,” Jacobs said. “Some of it can be explained by the particularly painful effects of deindustrialization in the state, but these wages are also the result of policy choices over the years. The state spends less on education and has seen slower growth in the knowledge-based industries than other more prosperous Midwestern states.”
In addition to increasing the minimum wage to at least $10.10, boosting the state’s education funds (including early and higher education), strengthening workplace policies that give mothers and fathers the flexibility to work and raise their children, restoring the Earned Income Tax Credit, and encouraging collective bargaining are policies that Gov. Rick Snyder and legislators must adopt to address these worrisome wage trends.
Michigan’s minimum wage is set to rise from $7.40 an hour in four steps: $8.15 on Sept. 1; $8.50 on Jan. 1, 2016; $8.90 on Jan. 1, 2017; and to $9.25 on Jan. 1, 2018. The League supports an increase to $10.10 an hour, which can be approved by either the Michigan Legislature or Congress.
The report can be found online: http://www.mlpp.org/labor-day-in-michigan-report-pay-falls-for-low-wage-men-yet-women-still-far-behind
The Michigan League for Public Policy, www.mlpp.org, is a state-level policy institute dedicated to economic opportunity for all.