With an organization employing over 20,000 people, you can bet Donald Trump knows a thing or two about wages. And minimum wages.
In a phone interview with MSNBC Trump said “We can’t have a situation where our labor is so much more expensive than other countries that we can no longer compete,” when responding to the question of how he would address flat wages and whether the minimum wage should be raised.
Ever the plain-spoken realist, Trump said “It’s such a nasty question because the answer has to be nasty.”
And no doubt, many workers will find Trump’s answer rather unpleasant.
“Having a low minimum wage is not a bad thing for this country,” he said.
It would certainly make us more competitive globally, because as Trump says, “it’s the United States against other places,” where the taxes and wages are lower.
But let’s remind ourselves of the three giant, glaring truths about the minimum wage liberals won’t admit:
1. Less than three percent of Americans actually earn at or below the minimum wage.
The U.S. Department of Labor says 1.6 million people make the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. Another 2 million earn below that rate, such as restaurant servers who make tips in addition to a lower base hourly wage which, according to U.S. News and World Report, “in many cases actually puts them significantly above the minimum wage in reality, if not officially.” That means in a nation of 317 million, just 3.6 million (1.1%) make at or below the minimum wage. As a share of the U.S. workforce, that makes the number just 2.8%
2. Half of all minimum wage workers are 16 to 24 years old.
According to the Department of Labor, “minimum wage workers tend to be young,” and “about half of those paid the Federal minimum wage or less” are below age 25. Many of these are students working while in school or teenagers with part-time or summer jobs. That means half of the people most affected by a minimum wage hike are among those least likely to show up at the polls to vote, especially in a midterm election year. Indeed, minimum wage workers who are 16 and 17 years old are not even legally eligible to vote.
3. Minorities and the poor are hit hardest by the minimum wage.
Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman famously noted that “the most anti-black law on the books of this land is the minimum wage law.” Higher wages mean employers seek higher, more skilled workers. That, said Friedman, puts those with disproportionately less education and experience at a significant disadvantage when looking to put their foot on the first rung of the employment ladder.
Seems to me Trump’s answer about the minimum wage isn’t nasty unless you don’t want to accept the truth.
[This article was written by Michele Hickford]