Recently, my opponent in Iowa House District 13, State Representative Chris Hall (D-Sioux City), has made some very bold statements about poverty and minimum wage here in Sioux City. He made radical claims, such as 1 in 5 people in Sioux City will be affected by a minimum wage increase, and that by raising the minimum wage to up to $9.00 an hour, 4,000 children will see a positive effect to their living situations.
Mr. Hall has made some very broad claims that just simply do not add up, and I would like to offer up my own opinion that is based more in reality than theory.
Let’s look at facts provided by the United States Census Bureau. In Sioux City, there are approximately 50,831 people ages 16-64, which my opponent has confirmed. Approximately 9,304 of those did not work at all, and 14,269 are employed part time. That leaves 27,258 people to be employed full time.
The 1 in 5 statistic that Mr. Hall has claimed would be impacted by an increase in minimum wage is GROSSLY incorrect. The Census does places 1 in 5 people in the 16-64 age range at the poverty level, which reflects the statistics Mr. Hall has presented. This equates to approximately 10,471.
However, what Hall fails to mention is that 45.3% of people in this category do not work at all, and 29.4% work part time. He also failed to figure in those that are still in school, disabled, or a variety of other factors that prevent full time employment. In fact, of the total number of working age people, less than 4% of those that work full time are at or below the poverty level.
If we follow the suggestion to bring the minimum wage up to $9.00 an hour, this will have little effect on bringing those working part time and those not working at all above the poverty line.
And facts have shown that increases in the minimum wage nationwide have driven employers to shift more employees to a part time status in an effort to offset costs. Studies in cities that recently raised the minimum wage, such as Seattle and Washington D.C., have shown that jobs affected by the increase are either being eliminated or grow at a slower rate than all jobs in general.
I have brought a much better proposal to the table that will lift those in our community that live currently live below the poverty line to a better situation- we need to work to bring in skilled and good paying jobs into our community. We need to strengthen our schools by bringing control of our education back to our local community, and do what we can to bring businesses into the community that employ skilled labor and clerical positions.
By doing these things, we can help the nearly 5,000 people in our community that live at or below the poverty level that currently do not work at all, as well as help many of the over 14,000 part time employees in Sioux City attain full time status. A minimum wage increase will not do any of this- bringing in more jobs will.