Twenty-some years ago, cities across the nation, including Milwaukee, passed “living wage” laws aimed at raising the minimum wage for the working poor. While these laws have eased financial burdens for some, it’s unknown if living wage laws have improved the health of affected workers and their families.
Mustafa Hussein at UWM’s Zilber School of Public Health is leading a team of researchers investigating that question. Backed by a $250,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Hussein’s team is comparing data on the populations of 17 metro areas that had living wage laws in effect between 1997 and 2006 to data from 34 cities that did not.
“Our project is the first to use actual data to analyze the health effects of (living wage) policies in multiple cities across the country,” said Hussein, an assistant professor.