BAWD Newsletter / Issue #8 / Summer 2019

Both Sides of the Living Wage Debate
Jim Golembeski

I am often asked about whether a $15 minimum wage is a good idea. My response is that there are two sides to the answer to that question.

Side One is probably the argument we hear the most: working people should be able to have a living wage. The Wisconsin United Way ALICE (Asset-Limited, Income-Constrained, Employed) report has a lot of good data on the cost of living, but suffice it to say that ALICE determines “Survival Budget” for a family of four (2 adults,
1 infant, 1 preschooler) at $61,620 per year, an hourly wage of $30.81! The bottom
line is that even in NE Wisconsin, the cost of basic necessities has been going up in recent years. Housing costs in particular have been steadily rising for anything most
of us would consider living in. Reliable transportation, vital to keeping a job, is also becoming more challenging. Add in the cost of new “necessities” such as smart phones, cable television, and Internet connection, and it adds up. But try living without those amenities in 2019. The cost of child care is especially draining on a family budget, but do we really want to actively discourage young people from having families? Some countries have amazing subsidies to support young families. Should it not be a moral responsibility to make sure people can afford to live decently if they are working hard and contributing to the economy?

  But the Side Two of the discussion is just as vital. Employers are not social service agencies. They are in business to make money. They take the risk of investing in the means of production and in their stores and inventories. Many compete in a regional or even a global economy. Hiring someone is a risk. Unemployment and worker’s compensation costs are especially burdensome to employers, but they take on those costs. For better or for worse, since the New Deal, health care is often tied to employment in the United States, an additional responsibility for employers. 

I believe it is incumbent on workers to ask themselves: “What skills do I bring that provide $15 per hour of value to an employer?” Even at a time when some employers would be happy just to have workers show up on time every day and ready to work, skills matter. And skills do not have to mean Associate or Bachelor degrees. There are certifications and online learning opportunities readily available.

Lastly, attitude counts as much as anything. $15 per hour cannot be seen as an entitlement. Employees and employers need to work to together for economic success and the wealth has to be shared to ensure a decent living for everyone.

Kettle Moraine Correctional Institution
Colleen McNulty-Huibregtse
Social Worker

Kettle Moraine Correctional Institution (KMCI) is a medium security prison located in Sheboygan County. KMCI houses approximately 1170 inmates. Part of the programming at KMCI includes development of re-entry skills for inmates. KMCI offers numerous educational opportunities for the inmates to improve their academic and vocational skill level. Our vocational programs team up with Moraine Park Technical College to provide certificates or diplomas in Barbering, Welding, Mechanical Design, Masonry, Cabinet Making, and Custodial Skills. Inmates also participate in college level classes through Milwaukee Area Technical College. Others can obtain their HSED or GED. Inmates are also afforded the opportunity to participate in cognitive based programming that addresses substance use disorders, anger management issues, domestic violence, coping skills and sex offender treatment. Some inmates have jobs within the institution to learn new work skills and enhance their employability opportunities upon release.

Quick Facts
Ryan Long - Local Labor Market Specialist

    As of May 2019, the Bay Area's unemployment rate was 2.6%. This is unchanged from the rate seen at that time last year and is slightly lower than the statewide rate of 2.7%.
With an estimated 1,040 annual total openings, Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Drivers is the highest ranked Hot Job in the Bay Area
Between 2020 and 2040, the Bay Area's population is projected to grow by 8.7%, which surpasses Wisconsin's overall growth of 8.1%. At the same time, 25.0% of the local population will be at least 65 years old compared to 23.7% for the state.

Windows to Work
Betty Gregory-Paasch

The Windows to Work program provides inmates from the Oshkosh Correctional Institution, Taycheedah Correctional Institution and Kettle Moraine Correctional Institution with education, support and other case management services. It is a voluntary program designed to assist incarcerated men and women in making a successful transition back into the community. The program's case managers serve as the client's advocate, working with the Division of Community Corrections and other corrections personnel to help participants get on track and start a new life.

The success of this program initiated by the Bay Area Workforce Development Board is now a DOC Program in all eleven Workforce Development Boards.

Local Job Fairs

Sheboygan County Job Center - August 1 from 1:00 - 3:00 pm

Manitowoc County Job Center - August 6 from 1:00 - 3:00 pm

Brown County Job Center - August 15 from 1:00 - 3:00


International Youth Day - August 12

World Humanitarian Day - August 19

September is National Literacy Month

Labor Day - September 2

(920) 432-4100 | | | 317 W. Walnut St. Green Bay, WI 54303