Raise the Wage Act for Child Care Workers Press Release

Laura Dresser, COWS Associate Director

(ldresser@cows.org, 608-695-9065) or 

Daithi Wolfe, Kids Forward Senior Early Education Analyst (dwolfe@kidsforward.org   608-513-5246)

For immediate release

$15 by 2025 would Raise Wages for 2/3 of Wisconsin’s Child Care Workers

Together, COWS and Kids Forward have released a new report about how the state’s child care workers would be affected by raising the minimum wage to $15 by 2025 that draws on analysis from the Economic Policy Institute. We show that just over 2/3 of Wisconsin’s childcare workers would see wage increases if the federal minimum wage was $15 per hour by 2025, as proposed in the federal Raise the Wage Act.

Raising the minimum wage to $15 by 2025 would bring wages up for half a million child care workers across the nation. That’s a raise for 43 percent of child care workers in the nation. In Wisconsin, 67 percent of child care workers – some 16,000 workers — would earn more with this increase. Wisconsin is one of just 13 states where the Raise the Wage Act would lift wages of more than 2/3 of child care workers.

Wisconsin’s very low minimum wage is to blame for the low wages of child care workers. Child care workers often have wages close to the wage floor, but Wisconsin’s $7.25 wage floor is now well behind most of our neighbors. In Minnesota the current minimum is $10.08 per hour and in Illinois it is $11. “Because Wisconsin is one of just 21 states still at the federal minimum, our workers are getting left farther behind. Wisconsin’s child care workforce have been recognized and celebrated as essential in the pandemic but earn so little that they often struggle to make ends meet,” said Laura Dresser, a labor economist and Associate Director of COWS at UW-Madison.

The report also shows that $15 by 2025 also secures greater gender, racial, and ethnic equity by raising wages for the women and people of color who do these jobs; gender, racial, and ethnic gaps all close with a higher minimum wage. Childcare workers who get raises would bring home $2,900 more per year.

“Raising the minimum wage delivers more money to the women and people of color overrepresented in poverty-wage jobs and, notably, child care work,” said Michele Mackey, CEO/ED of Kids Forward. “This is good policy for the people who work with our children, and it is good for our children too, because better pay for child care work reduces the financial stress faced by child care workers who can focus more on the children.”

For further details, view the factsheet.