“If we kept (the minimum wage) indexed to inflation, people would be making $20 an hour right now.”
During a CNN town hall in Wisconsin, Joe Biden misstated an argument in favor of raising the minimum wage.
Biden and many other Democrats support a phased-in minimum-wage hike to $15 an hour. That would be a significant increase from the current $7.25, a level that has been steady since 2009.
During the town hall, a member of the audience asked Biden about the wage hike proposal,
“Given the lower cost of living specifically in the Midwest, many business owners are concerned that this will put them out of business, forcing them to downsize or cut benefits,” the audience member said. “How can you instill confidence in small businesses that this will benefit the Midwest business growth?”
Biden said it was reasonable for small business owners to worry about the impact, but he sought to reassure the questioner that the positive impacts would outweigh the negative ones if the change was made gradually.
“Here’s the deal,” Biden said. “It’s about doing it gradually, where it’s (currently) $7.25 an hour. No one should work 40 hours a week and live in poverty. But it’s totally legitimate for small business owners to be concerned about how that changes.
“If we kept (the minimum wage) indexed to inflation, people would be making $20 an hour right now,” Biden said. “That’s what it would be.”
But Biden muffed his talking point.
Using the inflation calculator operated by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, $7.25 in 2009 would be worth about $8.98 in 2021, which is well short of $20.