Wages in key battleground state soar, boosted by controversial Foxconn project

Wisconsin will likely be one of the most pivotal states in the upcoming election

Wages in a key region of Wisconsin are climbing faster than anywhere else in the country, bolstered in part by Taiwanese electronics manufacturer Foxconn's controversial construction of a manufacturing complex in the state.

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According to Bloomberg News, two of Wisconsin's metropolitan areas -- Fond du Lac, just north of Milwaukee, and Racine, just south -- rank first and fifth nationally in wage gains out of a total of 389 in the U.S. Both posted increases of more than 25% in July compared to last year. A third metropolitan area, Sheboygan, ranks 35th.

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Wisconsin will likely be one of the most pivotal states during the November election: In 2016, President Trump eked out a narrow victory in the state over then-Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, winning by less than 1%. According to an aggregate of national polls by RealClearPolitics, Democratic nominee Joe Biden has a 6.5 percentage point lead over Trump.

But the Foxconn project has become one of the few bright spots of Wisconsin's economy, which has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic and the U.S.-China trade war.

When Foxconn began hiring in Racine, it helped push the country's wage gains to their highest on record, Bloomberg reported.

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“The Foxconn development has already provided major investments in construction and manufacturing,” U.S. Rep. Bryan Steil, a Republican who represents the district and also co-founded the Future of Work Caucus, told Bloomberg.

According to Indeed.com, Foxconn has many openings at the plant site, which offered at least $15-an-hour -- well above the state's minimum wage, which matches the federal level at $7.25 per hour.

In a report filed at the beginning of April, Foxconn said it directly employed more than 550 full-time workers, saying it had created enough jobs to begin collecting the $3 billion incentive package offered by the state to attract the company's first U.S. manufacturing facility. (It was roughly one-quarter of the jobs they had projected).

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In 2017, Trump said Foxconn would build a $10 billion plant, which would employ 13,000 people manufacturing high-resolution LCD screens. But Foxconn, Apple's biggest supplier, radically scaled back its plans for the factory.

Democrats had originally planned to hold their nominating convention in Milwaukee this past week, but opted instead for an entirely virtual event. Trump traveled to Wisconsin on Monday; Vice President Mike Pence visited the state two days later.

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