Akin, Brunner and Steel Don't Know the Minimum Wage

Sarah Steelman
Sarah Steelman
Todd Akin, John Brunner and Sarah Steelman, the three Republicans running for the Missouri Senate, all participated in a debate hosted by KMOX. Moderator Charlie Brennan threw 'em all for a loop when he asked them what the federal minimum wage is, and if they would vote to increase it.

Brunner admitted he didn't know it, Steelman hazarded a guess ($7.50 an hour) and Akin guessed somewhere between $6 and $7, but admitted he didn't "know the exact number right now." They all agreed that whatever it was, it's too high. Steelman went further and suggested that it's so high that "young people sometimes can't find jobs because they're taken by other people and they don't pay a lower wage, or are unable to pay a lower wage because of the minimum wage. So that squeezes jobs out."

Actually, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the greatest percentage of the work force earning the federal minimum wage -- which happens to be $7.25 an hour -- are workers age 16 to 19. So no, most teenagers aren't being kept out of the work force because the 40-year-olds are hoarding all the good fryer jobs.

What's more interesting is that the percentage of the work force that earns the federal minimum wage or lower is actually increasing, which means minimum wage workers are becoming a larger part of the nation's economy.

In 2007, 1.7 million workers nationwide earned the federal minimum wage or less, which was then $5.25 an hour.

In 2009, the federal minimum wage increased to $7.25. That year, 3.6 million workers were earning the minimum or lower.

In 2011, 3.8 million workers nationwide earned the minimum wage or less.

I'm no political analyst, but maybe these guys should know this stuff. It appears there's a trend that indicates more people every year are working for minimum wage.

Incidentally, Missouri senators are paid $98.40 per day for their service, which assuming they rack up an eight-hour day (snicker), puts them at just about $12.30 an hour. Nice work, if you can get it.

Video of the candidates fumbling the question below.

Scroll to read more St. Louis Metro News articles


Join Riverfront Times Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.