Will Scott Walker seal the border as Wisconsin’s low wage workers find jobs in Minnesota?


One of the Republican talking points during the legislative floor debate on raising the minimum wage was that businesses near Minnesota’s borders would flee to neighboring lower wage states.

In a February, Bluestem noted in Borders: re-framing MN minimum wage debate?:

An article in yesterday’s New York Times challenges the notion that lower wages just across a state border only create an advantage for the low-wage side of the border. Kirk Johnson reports in Crossing Borders and Changing Lives, Lured by Higher State Minimum Wages:

In the nation’s debate about the minimum wage, which President Obama has proposed increasing at the federal level to $10.10 from $7.25, [Oregon’s] rolling borderland of onion farms and strip malls provides a test tube of sorts for observing how the minimum wage works in daily life, and how differences in the rate can affect a local economy in sometimes unexpected ways.

Ms. Lynch is one of the many minimum-wage migrants who travel from homes in Idaho, where the rate is $7.25, to work in Oregon, where it is the second highest in the country, $9.10. Similar migrations unfold every day in other parts of Idaho — at the border with Washington, which has the highest state minimum, $9.32, and into Nevada, where the minimum rate tops out at $8.25.

A report coming out of Wisconsin this morning suggests that this dynamic is kicking in, and employers in the Badger State’s western border towns are considering paying more to keep low-wage workers home.

This article is reposted from TCDP media partner Bluestem Prairie. Check out the links below for other recent Bluestem Prairie stories:

Eau Claire’s WEAU 13 reports in Minn. minimum wage increase raises concerns for WI border areas:

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton (D) signed a new minimum wage law raising wages to at least $9.50 an hour by 2016.

With Wisconsin’s minimum at $7.25, there’s some concern people may choose to move or work in Minnesota for a higher wage.

For border counties like Pepin, there’s some question whether people making wages below $9.50 would drive or move for a bigger paycheck, and what that would do to businesses in Wisconsin.

David Klein is the store manager at Countryside Co-op in Pepin. He said he expects no problems filling part time job openings, but that could get more competitive when Minnesota raises its minimum wage over the next three years. . . .

It’s interesting that Republicans on the House and Senate imagining business flight across our borders could only thing of the labor market from the perspective of management and not job seekers.

Photo: The bridge at Hudson, WI, looking west.