Center for American Progress Action

RELEASE: Raising the Minimum Wage Will Help Iowa Families, But Joni Ernst Opposes It
Press Release

RELEASE: Raising the Minimum Wage Will Help Iowa Families, But Joni Ernst Opposes It

New poll says 80 percent of Iowans could not support household on current minimum wage.

Washington, D.C. – More than 300,000 Iowans could benefit from raising the minimum wage above the current level of $7.25, helping hardworking families and the state’s economy continue recovering from the recession. But Republican Senate candidate Joni Ernst opposes the federal minimum wage and says $7.25 is “appropriate for Iowa.” A new report and poll from the Center for American Progress Action Fund shows how Ernst’s position hurts Iowa families and that they disagree with her position on the minimum wage.

According the poll, 80 percent of Iowans say they could not support their household on Iowa’s minimum wage, which amounts to about $15,000 per year. And while Ernst opposes a minimum-wage hike, 57 percent of Iowans support it, including 53 percent of Independent voters. She is so out of touch with Iowa that she opposes a policy that would help get nearly 26,000 Iowans out of poverty.

“Raising the minimum wage is one of the biggest steps we can take to address poverty and grow our economy,” said Gov. Ted Strickland, President of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. “Cities that are already leading on raising the minimum wage are creating jobs, because when people earn a fair wage for hard work, they reinvest it back into their communities and help businesses grow. Instead of letting Iowans fall behind, Republicans such as Joni Ernst should support workers and ensure that no one who works hard and plays by the rules is still forced to live in poverty.”

Throughout her campaign for the U.S. Senate, Ernst has made her opposition to a minimum-wage increase clear, saying “I do not support a federal minimum wage” and that $7.25 is “appropriate for Iowa.” Her position suggests that she could vote to abolish the minimum wage if elected to the U.S. Senate, making her more extreme than even former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, who have both backed a minimum-wage hike.

Currently, a worker who works full time and takes no vacation would make $15,080 per year on minimum wage$5,000 below the federal poverty line for a family of three. According to Ernst, most minimum-wage jobs are filled by high school students. Yet in reality, nearly 80 percent of those who would be affected by a minimum-wage increase in Iowa are older than 20 years old, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

“Joni Ernst’s suggestion that $7.25 is enough is an insult to every working Iowan struggling to make ends meet,” said Matt Sinovic, executive director of Progress Iowa. “Ernst just doesn’t get it; middle-class families are working every day just to get by because the rules are stacked in favor of the extremely wealthy, and paychecks are not keeping up with expenses. Raising the minimum wage will provide a much needed boost for working Iowans and small businesses across our state. Better wages will mean workers with more money to spend and more customers for businesses, which will need to hire even more employees.”

Read the report here.

For more information or to talk to an expert, please contact Benton Strong at 202.481.8142 or [email protected].