Candidate Calls Minimum Wage ‘Great Starter Wage for Many High School Students’

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ANKENY, Iowa--U.S. Senate candidate Joni Ernst, a Red Oak state senator, said Tuesday she doesn't support a plan to raise the federal minimum wage because it should be a state's issue. And she said a "one size fits all" policy doesn't fit in this case.

Ernst said, "These are entry-level jobs and would love to have enough jobs that people are moving up into greater paying jobs."

She said states are different with factors like cost of living so the federal government shouldn't mandate a certain wage that applies to all states. Ernst also said she considers the wage appropriate for beginners. "I think $7.25 is a great starter wage for many high school students. They are just getting into work."

A 2013 Pew Research study found more than 3/4 of minimum wage workers are not teenagers. 

Ernst's comments came following the announcement she earned the endorsement of the National Federation of Independent Business. The group's Iowa State Director Kirsten Failor said, "We have more than 10,000 small business members and over 350,000 nationwide. These business owners need a voice in Washington. And that voice is Joni's."

Ernst toured Ankeny-based Accumold, a company with approximately 200 employees. The company specializes in products like making components for hearing aids and black boxes in military jets.

Later in the day, the Iowa Farm Bureau also announced its endorsement of Ernst with its "Friend of Agriculture" designation. The group counts 153,000 families statewide.




  • Suzy

    It really disgusts me when politions who make well over minimum wage claim it’s enough for anyone to live on. What BS. Have they tried it, rent, utility increases, food prices on the rise daily. Try making a car payment & insurance to get to work in, can’t be done. You have no life if you do. You’re working a minimum wage job just to exist! Can’t afford to eat out, buy new shoes or clothes. Forget about going out on a date! Has anyone priced movie tickets, drinks & popcorn? Come on Joni Ernst, when you can live on 15 grand a year & enjoy life, maybe you’ll see the light!!!

    • Mike Cee

      It really disgusts me when people don’t take responsibility for themselves, and instead hope that a politician will make their life better. It also disgusts me when those same people can’t even spell the word “politician”.

      You could spend less time stuffing your face with pop, popcorn and junk food at movies, less time shopping for new clothes and shoes, and you could actually buy a car you can afford rather than a car you have to make payments on (hint-insurance is also much lower on cars that are less expensive).

      Instead of those things, you could spend your time improving your education and skill set. You could make yourself more valuable to businesses; businesses that pay higher wages to valuable employees who actually bring value to the business.

      Or you could continue to do the same thing over and over and hope that someone else takes care of you.

      • Suzy

        Well, Mike, since you seem to be so all knowing, perhaps you could tell all the teens out there how to be proud to wear old clothes & shoes to interview in, how to drive cheap cars that break
        down & how to get cheap insurance as a teen. How not to eat out or go on dates or any possibility of a future family because they can’t afford it. This teen is a straight A student, participates in sports but can’t go out after the game with his/her friends or team mates. You obviously don’t have a teen at home living with a parent on disability because of a not at fault car accident that permanently injured you physically & emotionally. I misspelled a word, that does not mean I am uneducated. I have a degree but you didn’t care to ask. I don’t depend on politicians for anything. They never keep the promises they make!

  • Hugo S LaVia

    Excuse me, Ms Einstein, it’s also (not a great) ENDING wage for some of us middle-aged white guys who have been pushed out of our jobs. That is, IF we can actually get someone to interview and then hire us. You have about half a clue.

  • junior

    braley voted against the XL keystone pipeline which would of brought thousands of jobs to the midwest and voted for obamacare which made thousands of full-time jobs into part-time jobs without benefits…… PERIOD…

  • Right Wing Patriot

    Minimum education, minimum work experience equates to minimum wage. Its simply about supply and demand. Anyone can serve fast food, but few can be cardiac surgeon or a professional athelete.

    • harrisbock

      With Obama Care and the low medical payouts, along with the required paperwork…fewer people want to become doctors and are not replacing the ones who retire or just choose to leave the practice due to the payment system.

    • Curt

      It’s not about being rich. It’s about an honest days wage. We, as a society have decided that a 40 hour work week is a standard week. Therefore we, as a society have deemed that to be a fair amount of labor. I’m not saying those people need new cars, designer clothes, cell phones, or even houses. But if you work a 40 hour week, you deserve to be able to pay rent, have food on your kids plate, and be able to car pool. 15k a year? Christ I spend almost 7k a year in gas!! and that’s just my work truck! Say what you want, but the wages haven’t kept up with inflation. I just got my first raise ($0.50 an hour) in 6 years. I make less now by inflation than I did in 2000.

      • harrisbock

        Curt, I agree that the 40 hour work week is the norm. The min. wage is also accepted by society as a starting wage. It worked for teens still living at home, saving money and building work experience to some day leave on their own, but now more and more adults are taking and keeping those jobs out of necessity, so there are few starter jobs for the new young workers . I also agree it has not kept up with inflation and the current cost of living. Working 40 hours for $7.25 earns one $290.00 BEFORE taxes or $1160.00 per month BEFORE taxes. If one is living on the cheap, say $450.00 per month for rent, no cable, utilities figure a conservative $200.00. There is $650.00 leaving $510.00 per month BEFORE taxes. Groceries, health insurance, car insurance, fuel cost will easily eat that up if not more. I am assuming that for a single person. With a family, not going to make it.
        Society is used to low quality cheap stuff. We want that $1.00 menu. We expect everything on the cheap. Business can do it due to cheap labor costs and do not want to pass addition costs to customers because they will not accept it, so they reduce full time hours, hire more part time workers, reduce or eliminate benefits to keep the sales prices down, and bring in automation to reduce the number of workers. The workers pay first. Customers will baulk at paying higher retail prices, even if it is to allow the workers hire pay. The min. wage is out of sync with today’s living costs, but the consumers are not willing to pay extra to help the minimum wage workers. It is hard to find American made products anymore, but many will buy the foreign low quality products because they are cheaper, and that hurts the American producers to where they move overseas where labor costs are cheaper. To bring the minimum wage to an amount that it is a “livable wage” means everyone will need to pay more for products…And with this bad economy, that is going to be a very tough sell. Then there are the waiters and waitresses that are legally allowed to be paid less than then the minimum wage with the assumption that tips will make up for it. When people do not have the money, they do not go out…and when they do, a lot do not tip or tip very little.

  • Dan

    Been there, 30 years later I still can’t go out to eat. But here’s the deal, if you raise the minimum to 15 bucks, who would hire a high school kid then? You can hire an adult. Try hiring a high school kid, they don’t show up, they are late, they are lazy etc. Some are ok but most aren’t these days. Then the 15 dollar an hour guy will want 30, etc. It’s ok to raise the minimum but not drastically all at once. But when you do, prices go up to match it. Democrats want votes by saying ok poof lets make 15 a minimum. Don’t you think they know what problems would happen doing that. How many would be out of a job? You’ll be working to make up for someone else’s job because they got fired.

  • Jeremiah

    I believe that if you raise minimum wage it will directly impact the cost of living. Company’s would need to raise prices on items produce in order to stay profitable. You may have more money coming in from your minimum wage job but you will also be dishing more out. Raising the minimum wage could force smaller business to close. If your unhappy with minimum wage then take a couple hours by going to a local community college, sign up for a two year skilled trade degree, and apply for financial aid and grants. I’m a full time student and still work 40-50 hours a week.

    • harrisbock

      Jeremiah, I comment your work ethic. You say your a full time student and still work full time. Do you live on your own or with your parents? Someone working multiple jobs to feed their family does not have the time, or the money, to take college courses. And if you have not noticed, having a college degree does not mean one will get a job that pays for earning that degree. Many college graduates have been shocked trying to enter the job market. They thought a degree was a guarantee for a well paying job. Not anymore, and now they are also straddled with student loans they can’t pay back. The over priced “trade degree”, not an actual college degree used to be called “On the job training” where you were learning the job while being paid to work. As your skills improved, so did ones pay. I have heard of law graduates suing their colleges because after earning that expensive law degree, they were not able to find that plush legal position they thought was guaranteed.

  • Troy V

    This is the first thing I’ve heard from Joni Ernst that I actually agree with.

    The Minimum wage SHOULD be for entry level jobs (what incentive is there for people to look for jobs that pay better if we keep raising the minimum wage). All that has happened in the years since the minimum wage has been raised over and over again is that more people with GOOD JOBS are moving CLOSER TO THE POVERTY LEVEL. It’s working the exact opposite of what the politicians think it will when they propose it.

    For Example, 25 years ago, minimum wage was $3.35 per hour in Iowa and the factory jobs that were considered (VERY GOOD) paid around $11 per hour (~70% difference). Now, the minimum wage is $7.25 per hour and those same factory jobs now pay $14.50 per hour (it’s been cut to 50% difference). What will happen when minimum wage goes to $10, those (good jobs) will pay $16 and hour and that “gap” between minimum wage and the “good jobs” will continue to shrink. This is HORRIBLE for our economy overall as the prices of goods and services will continue to go up.

    Do I feel for those that are trying to raise a family on minimum wage? Yes, but if they aren’t actively trying to find a job that pays better, has benefits, etc., that is THEIR ISSUE (I know people that stayed with minimum wage jobs after being OFFERED FULL TIME EMPLOYMENT FOR DOUBLE TO TRIPLE THE $$$ because they would have to work nights or weekends and their “playtime” was more important to them than the $$ was. then they whine and cry that they can’t raise a family on minimum wage a year or two later when they get married (or not) and start having kids.

    NEWSFLASH: MINIMUM WAGE IS DESIGNED FOR ENTRY LEVEL JOBS ONLY. Those companies that need “skilled labor” or manufacture goods pay a lot more than minimum wage (but you have to work the shift they tell you to work and SHOW UP or you won’t work there anymore.

  • linnivy

    See, this is one thing I can’t stand about Republicans. They just don’t get how the average American lives. There are plenty of things to complain about with the Democrats also like wanting amnesty for illegals… but then again the reason many illegals are here in the first place is because of Republicans. Got to keep those wages for big corporations low ya know

  • harrisbock

    Allow states to set their own min. wages based on their own state situations? Then the federal income tax rates need to be adjusted for each state based on the wage income base. Someone making $7.00 an hours feels the federal tax more than someone making $17.00 an hour when the bills are paid…or unable to be paid.

  • harrisbock

    The reason there is a federal min. wage law is to prevent companies from abusing workers by paying them substandard wages. You think the current min. wage is low? How about being offered $2.50 per hour? You may not take it, but there are many slaves who will.

  • iowagerry

    Something happened to the Middle Class starting back a few years. 1) good paying jobs were outsourced overseas, 2) technology/robots displaced workers, 3) the economy tanked, 4) the GOP out-muscled unions at the ballot box, and 5) tea-party obstructionists bullied moderates, blocked progress and filibustered reform. The result is Middle Class wage earners got laid off, then unemployed, and had to choose low-pay over no-pay. Many took low pay in job that 40 years ago were considered entry-level work for high schoolers. Many work two/more PT jobs.

    Apparently JE still lives in an ivory tower where low wage and entry-level and part-time and high school kid all describe the same person. Not in 2014, girlfriend. Time to wake up and smell the coffee. Put your GOP talking point away and get out your bugle, there’s work to be done. Be part of the solution or hang back with your convoy.

    PS. Checkout your old convoy roster (and your hometown phone book) and you’ll see names of guys/gals who would find your comments about minimum wage quite offensive.

  • Mike Cee

    Everyone has a choice to work for higher wages. You can take personal responsibility for yourself, improve your skills, and choose not to have a pack of kids when you’re a teenager. You can choose to set your goals higher than flipping burgers or working in a convenience store. There is a huge amount of opportunity out there, but rather than take advantage of it, there are folks that choose to sit around and pretend that decent jobs don’t exist. Here’s a hint-they are available, but only to people who have made the choice to invest in themselves and learn a skill that has significant value to the business world.

    Or you can hope that politicians will vote you a miniscule raise as you continue with your career that requires little or no skill.

  • harrisbock

    One has to think of the necessity of a minimum wage law. It is to prevent employers from taking advantage of their employees and paying them less than the value of the work. It was enacted because some businesses would hire those willing to work for less. That is why some business hire illegal labor. They will accept less, demand less, and will not cause problems that could cause them to be deported. In many cases, half minimum wage is better than where they came from and they happily accept it. While many businesses pay way more than minimum wage and offer benefits, they do not legally have to do so. As economic times get worse for business, they can reduce/eliminate benefits, and lower wages. Some are doing that now with health insurance on an employees spouse. If the spouse works and can get insurance from their job, they are no longer covered, even if the spouse would get lower coverage. People say if you don’t like the wage, go somewhere else. Where? If you will not work for a given wage, there are many who are eager to take your position. If a company currently pays $20.00 per hour with benefits, they can legally (unless under contract) remove the benefits and assume the mandated lower minimum wage. If you will not work for that, someone else will. There have been studies showing American workers work more hours per week than other industrialized countries, and take fewer vacation time, if any, than other countries. In US business, a worker who uses all his/her vacation time is less productive than one who uses less. And most higher paid workers who do vacation, are still calling in and doing work for the company while they are on their alleged vacation.

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