Forum

Hillary and $15 minimum wage

Credit: Maegha Singh/Art Editor Credit: Maegha Singh/Art Editor
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During this presidential election, there has been a lot of debate about raising the federal minimum wage. From the beginning of his run for president, Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders has made it clear that he supports raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour. On the other hand, his opponent Hillary Clinton has taken a different approach that many find difficult to understand.

Clinton first gave her opinion on minimum wage during the Democratic debate on April 14. She stated that she would sign a bill to increase the federal minimum wage to $15, but added that she favors a slightly different change in federal wages. Recently, she has stated that her ideal model is based around the changes that have been made in New York — initially creating a $12.50 minimum wage in rural areas and $15 minimum wage in the city.

She has received much criticism for her opinion on minimum wage, mainly because people feel that her position is not a straightforward one. Contrary to her statements during this Democratic debate, Clinton supported changing minimum wage to $12 per hour at the beginning of her campaign. If she only claims that she wants a more gradual change in wages, voters cannot be sure that she would actually sign off on a $15 minimum wage bill if it was presented to her.

Another issue is that many people do not believe that incremental change will benefit them more than a doubling of the federal minimum wage, from the current $7.25 to $15. Clinton reasons that in rural areas, doubling wages would have suboptimal effects on the economy and could lead to fewer jobs. It is not certain this will occur, but Clinton believes that the safe approach is to monitor gradual increases to make sure that the economy as a whole does not suffer.

Nevertheless, much economic research has shown that increasing wages would not cause a significant decline in the number of jobs. Last year, the Congressional Budget Office published a report finding that increasing wages would give higher earnings to at least 16.5 million workers. According to Statista, there are currently 144 million people in the U.S. workforce, so around 10 percent of the workers with low wages would benefit.

Regardless of whether increasing wages will affect job growth, Clinton should be more clear about her intent, since many perceive that she has been unclear at times.