Raising the Minimum Wage Will Help Iowa Families, But GOP Senate Candidate Joni Ernst Opposes It
We’ve written about how a number of cities and states around the country have proactively worked to raise their minimum wage, benefiting millions of hard-working Americans. There are other areas, meanwhile, where the debate over whether or not to raise the wage has become a political focal point. Iowa is a perfect example: in the deadlocked race for U.S. Senate between Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley and Republican state senator Joni Ernst, the contrast between the candidates couldn’t be clearer. Braley proudly supports an increase in the minimum wage, while Joni Ernst has stated she does not support a federal minimum wage at all and that “$7.25 is appropriate for Iowa.”
A new report and poll from CAP Action outlines just how out of touch Ernst is for Iowans and in helping create an economy that works for everyone, not just the wealthy few. While 300,000 Iowans would see their wages go up and 80 percent of Iowa voters say they could not support their household on Iowa’s minimum wage, Ernst continues to call a federal minimum wage increase “ridiculous.” This extreme position would hurt hardworking Iowans and the overall economy. Here are just a few reasons why, from the report:
- Failing to raise the minimum wage keeps money out of workers’ pockets. Raising the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour would increase wages for 306,000 Iowans by a total of $430,462,000. Opposing a minimum-wage increase denies these workers a much-needed—and much-deserved—raise.
- Failing to raise the minimum wage keeps Iowans poor. A $10.10 minimum wage would reduce Iowa’s nonelderly poverty rate by more than 9 percent, from 10.9 percent to 9.8 percent, and would lift more than 26,000 Iowans out of poverty.
- Failing to raise the minimum wage hurts women in particular. 57.8 percent of Iowans who would benefit from a minimum-wage hike are women. By opposing raising the minimum wage, Ernst is disproportionately hurting women.
- Failing to raise the minimum wage hurts the economy. Increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 would boost the Iowa economy by $272,483,000. Not raising the minimum wage prevents Iowa from growing its economy.
- Failing to raise the minimum makes it harder for Iowa workers to make ends meet. According to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, or MIT, a family of three in Des Moines needs $52,362 per year to meet minimum standards of living.
In addition to the report, CAP Action also releases a poll of Iowa voters on how they feel about these issues. Here are some key findings that illustrate how out of touch Ernst is with Iowans:
- 80 percent say that they could not support their household on a minimum-wage salary, which is about $15,000 per year. So much for Ernst’s proclamation that $7.25 is “appropriate for Iowa.”
- 57 percent believe that there should be a federal minimum wage, disagreeing with Ernst’s position on the matter.
- 53 percent support raising the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10.
BOTTOM LINE: Ernst’s radical position on the minimum wage threatens the economic security of Iowans. At a time when too many families in Iowa and across the country are still recovering from the Great Recession, we need elected officials who will act to rebuild the economy so that it once again works for everyone, not just the wealthy few.