Iowa state Sen. Joni Ernst, the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in the state, argued that $7.25 an hour, the federal minimum wage, is a good starting wage for high school students. But according to a Pew Research study, just 24 percent of people on the minimum wage are teenagers between 16 and 19.
“These are entry-level jobs and [we] would love to have enough jobs that people are moving up into greater paying jobs,” Ernst said Tuesday according to Iowa’s whotv.com. Ernst added that “I think $7.25 is a great starter wage for many high school students. They are just getting into work.”
The Pew Research study in 2013 noted, however, that while about half of the Americans receiving a minimum wage are between 16 and 24 (50.6 percent) about three-fourths are not between the ages of 16 to 19.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2013, 1.566 million hourly workers made the $7.25 federal minimum wage and about 2 million made less than that.
Keep in mind that the average age of people making the minimum wage is rising. The average age is currently 35, according to economist Jared Bernstein at The New York Times’ Upshot blog, and 88 percent are at least 20 years old. About half of minimum wage earners are older than 30 and roughly one third are 40 or older. About a quarter are parents.
Ernst is running in a tight race against Democratic nominee Rep. Bruce Braley (IA). The TPM Polltracker gives Ernst a slight 0.2 point lead over Braley.