THU AM News: COWS report highlights wage growth over past 40 years; DNR taking comments on Kimberly-Clark Green Tier application

— The median wage for workers in Wisconsin increased by just $2.76 per hour over the past 40 years, a report from a UW-Madison think tank shows. 

The annual State of Working Wisconsin report from COWS found the state’s median wage rose from $17.48 per hour in 1979 to $20.24 per hour in 2020, with “strong wage growth” in the past two years driving much of that increase. COWS stands for Center on Wisconsin Strategy. 

All dollar figures in the report are adjusted for inflation. 

Since 2018, when the state’s median income was $18.66, the median wage has increased by more than $1.50 per hour. Report authors point to two causes for that recent jump. 

“After long stagnation, sustained economic growth that preceded the pandemic finally showed up in workers’ paychecks. This is unambiguously good news for workers,” they wrote. 

But at the same time, the pandemic’s impact on the economy last year caused many lower-wage workers to lose their jobs as restaurants, bars and hotels had to shut down temporarily. Those job losses drove the state’s median wage upward. 

The report also highlights a shift in income inequality in the state over the same period. 

“In 1979, the labor market was marked by a clear gender disparity. Men’s wages were substantially higher than women’s wages,” report authors wrote. “By 2020, the clear hierarchy is racial and ethnic with white men and women at the top.” 

The median wage in 1979 was $23.18 for white men, $20.07 for Black men and $18.24 for Hispanic men. Meanwhile, the median wage was $13.29 for white women, $14.90 for Black women and $11.02 for Hispanic women. 

Over the 40-year period covered in the report, median wages for those three groups of men all decreased, with Black men seeing the largest drop. At the same time, median wages for women increased, though Black women saw the smallest increase by percentage. 

The median wage in 2020 was $22.86 for white men, $15.94 for Black men and $17.51 for Hispanic men. And the median wage last year was $19.03 for white women, $16.64 for Black women and $16.04 for Hispanic women. 

See the wages report here: 

See more from this year’s COWS report: 

— The Department of Natural Resources is accepting public comments on an application for Kimberly-Clark’s Marinette facility to join the agency’s Green Tier program. 

The Green Tier program provides incentives for companies that commit to various environmental sustainability and risk mitigation efforts. A DHR release shows companies must demonstrate a “strong environmental record” and implement an environmental management system. 

Kimberly-Clark’s application is for Tier 1 of the program, which requires participating businesses to undergo environmental audits and set specific goals for their efforts. Other facilities owned by the company are already involved in the program. The agency is accepting public comments on the application through Oct. 1. 

The Marinette site has already created an environmental management system before applying to the Green Tier program, the release shows. The facility aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and cut manufacturing waste. About 230 people are employed at the facility, which produces consumer paper products. 

“Sustainability is at the heart of our operations at Marinette, and our team is excited to continue making progress on our sustainability goals as we work to cut our environmental footprint in half by 2030,” said Joe Canning, the plant’s manager. 

See the release: 

— The Department of Health Services is urging state residents to take precautions ahead of the Labor Day weekend as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to rise. 

“Let’s use all of our effective prevention tools: Get vaccinated, wear masks when gathering indoors, and stay home if you’re feeling sick, especially if planning get-togethers with others over the holiday weekend,” said Dr. Ryan Westergaard, chief medical officer and state epidemiologist for communicable diseases. 

Wisconsinites are being asked to hold gatherings outdoors this weekend. DHS warns that “medium and large gatherings” are contributing to the continued spread of the disease. 

The seven-day average for new case numbers increased to 1,699 yesterday, as the delta variant of the virus drives new infections. The Wisconsin Hospital Association dashboard shows 944 people are currently hospitalized with the virus and 280 people are in the ICU. 

State residents can still take advantage of the Wisconsin Vaccine Reward Program if they get their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine now through Labor Day, Sept. 6. 

The DHS site shows 54.8 percent of the state’s population have gotten at least one vaccine dose, and 51.5 percent have completed the vaccine series. At the national level, 61.9 percent of the U.S. population have gotten at least one shot and 52.6 percent are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. 

See the latest case numbers: 

See the WHA dashboard: 

See more on the vaccine reward program: 

— The UW System is offering a $500 tuition credit to nursing and pharmacy students who work at least 16 hours providing COVID-19 vaccinations over the next four months. 

A release shows more than 1,000 students earned a tuition credit for working at a vaccination site during the 2020-21 academic year, and another 200 earned the credit over the summer after the program was extended. Funding for the tuition credits comes from a Department of Health Services grant. 

Eligible students must be enrolled in a nursing or pharmacy program at a UW System campus during the fall semester and put in at least 16 hours as a COVID-19 vaccinator between now and the end of the year. They must also be authorized to provide these vaccines with a professional or nursing license, or coordinate with a faculty supervisor. 

“Our nursing and pharmacy students have been part of the solution in helping combat COVID-19 from day one,” UW System President Tommy Thompson said in a statement. “As long as we need them, I am confident they will step up for the people of Wisconsin.”

See more in a release: 

— Marshfield Clinic Health System CEO Dr. Susan Turney will be the featured speaker at the upcoming WOMEN reception event in Madison on Sept. 30. 

This annual event is put on by the Wisconsin Technology Council and the Wisconsin Healthcare Business Forum. Over the past six years, the event has highlighted a number of female executives and entrepreneurs. 

“We’re excited to have a speaker of Dr. Turney’s reputation share her experiences, especially at a time of challenges and innovation within health care,” said Tom Still, president of the Tech Council. 

See more event details and register here: 

— Madison-based Curate has been acquired by FiscalNote, a technology provider of global policy and market intelligence. 

“We look forward to continuing to advance our critical work at the local level as we join FiscalNote’s mission in connecting the people and organizations of the world to their governments,” Curate CEO Taralinda Willis said in a statement.

Curate was founded in 2016. Its technology allows government relations professionals to track policies and projects in more than 12,000 municipalities across the United States.

FiscalNote, based in Washington, D.C., currently works with more than 5,000 clients. Financial details of the acquisition were not disclosed.

Listen to a podcast with Willis: 

See more at Madison Startups: 


# Wisconsin backs down on regulating swimming pool rental app

# Wisconsin Hospital Association declares Covid-19 surge alarming

# Too many vacancies: Job openings, empty rooms are major challenges for Wisconsin’s hotel industry



– Wisconsin’s all milk price dropped to $17.70 in July

– Other state farm commodity prices mixed


– Lots of staff changes in local agriculture classrooms


– Rebranded and improved, Generac Power Stage ready for Summerfest

– Milwaukee performing arts groups to require proof of COVID vaccination or negative test


– Bill encourages solar developers to plant crops, pollinator habitat below panels 


– La Crosse meeting seeks solutions to drug overdose epidemic


– Rockwell completes $2.2 billion acquisition of Plex Systems


– First look at Michels’ R1ver project in Harbor District


– Perspire Sauna Studio coming to Brookfield


– With Ryder Cup coming up, Potawatomi looking to quickly hire more employees


<i>See these and other press releases: </i>

UW-Stout: Inside Stout, first university-wide podcast, debuts

Dept. of Health Services: Urges Wisconsinites to mask up and follow public health practices ahead of Labor Day Weekend