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Letter to the editor: Sick leave law will hurt workers

To the editor:

Especially with Wisconsin’s unemployment rate increasing 52 percent from November 2008 to November 2009, efforts to mandate paid sick leave are thoroughly misguided — “Milwaukee sick leave law appeal to get hearing Wednesday,” dailyreporter.com, Jan. 20.

Forcing employers — a majority of whom already have sick leave policies in place — to commit to this time off will hurt the very employees this mandate purports to help.

A typical sick leave proposal will potentially increase employers’ direct and administrative costs by nearly 5 to 7 percent. Research from the University of California, Irvine, shows that a 5 percent increase in labor costs would cause another spike in unemployment beyond current levels, with the largest unemployment increases among high school dropouts and minority teens. Often, vulnerable, low-skilled workers are the first pushed out of the labor market as employers look to workers with more experience to justify a higher cost to employ them.

At a time when the economy is struggling, policymakers should focus on promoting job growth instead of enacting mandates that create barriers to entry-level employment, especially for the nation’s most vulnerable workers.

Kristen Lopez Eastlick
senior economic analyst,
Employment Policies Institute

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