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Why hasn’t Gov. Walker scored more political points with Foxconn?

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From the pages of In Business magazine.

Welcome to "Political Posturing," featuring opposing views on current issues important to Wisconsin's business community. In this column, Wisconsin Business Alliance Board President Brad Werntz and conservative columnist David Blaska offer their opinions from the left and the right, respectively.

I would wager the Foxconn wages have something to do with it.

By Brad Werntz

When I was a paperboy, a crisp $10 bill made my pulse skip a beat. So in 1991, when I started my first business, whenever I needed good help I offered $10 an hour. At the time, the minimum wage in Wisconsin was $4.75, so as glad as I was to pay this, people were also glad to take it.

Fast-forward a few years, and I still offered $10 an hour. But it became harder to hire people, and for good reason: Where once this was over twice the minimum wage, now with the minimum wage at $7.25, $10 per hour is not even half-again as much. So no wonder I had a hard time hiring people.

Because the paperboy in me still thinks that $10 an hour is a big wage, sometimes I have to run the numbers. Call it a reality check: My gut response about wages is not in line with the actual math, and I know it because I’ve been both a worker and an employer.

People who work for a living know what Walker doesn’t. Our governor has barely ever worked in the private sector, and he’s never had to make payroll. Yet he’s out there waving a crisp $10 bill around like it’s big bucks. So how far is he off in getting people excited about it? Let’s look.

Foxconn is promising an average salary of $53,975 per year for their salaried jobs. To be fair, that’s close to the $53,407 average that online job comparison sites give for Foxconn salaried positions. But most Foxconn jobs pay by the hour, and here Foxconn falls really short: Their average posted hourly wage is just $10.73, far below the median Wisconsin wage of $17.81 per hour.

Let’s compare that to another big Wisconsin employer, Epic Systems. They have predominantly salaried jobs, and their average posted salary is $84,147. Epic has very few jobs that are posted at hourly rates, and even these average $13.07 per hour.

So, yes, people will take these jobs and be glad to have them, but Foxconn’s jobs aren’t very exciting, and they won’t necessarily translate into votes. Walker would know this if he had ever worked a real day in his life.

Brad Werntz is a small business owner in Madison.

(Continued)

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