PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE

What is the lowest minimum wage in the US and what did Trump and Biden say about raising it?

During Thursday’s second and final presidential debate, Trump and Biden both had differing views about raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour.

What is the lowest minimum wage in the US and what did Trump and Biden say about raising it?
JIM WATSON SAUL LOEB AFP

From immigration, foreign policy and criminal justice to the coronavirus crisis and the economy, President Donald Trump and Democratic candidate Joe Biden clashed on a number of topics in the final presidential debate in Tennessee on Thursday, including raising the minimum wage in the United States.

The federal minimum wage in the US is set at $7.25 an hour but states can also set their own minimum wage level, meaning the figure can vary greatly from jurisdiction.

Nineteen states currently have their minimum wage set at the federal level; Wyoming and Georgia have the lowest minimum wage at $5.15 (although employers subject to the Fair Labor Standards Act must pay the $7.25 Federal minimum wage); while Washington D.C. has the highest at $15.

The majority of Democrats, including presidential candidate Joe Biden, would like to see the federal minimum wage increased to $15 per hour, something which most Republicans are staunchly against, citing the impact it would have against small businesses.

US President Donald Trump steps off Air Force One upon arrival at Ocala International Airport in Ocala, Florida on October 23, 2020. - The President has two rallies scheduled in Florida today.

Presidential debate: What did Trump and Biden say about the minimum wage

During Thursday’s second and final presidential debate, Trump and Biden both had differing views about raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. 

Biden said he was in favor of increasing the minimum wage to $15 while at the same time arguing that the government would have to bail out small business struggling due to the coronavirus crisis.

Asked whether he believed it was the right moment to increase the minimum wage amid these challenging times for small businesses, Biden responded: “I do, because I think one of the things, we're going to have to do we're going to have to bail them out, too. We should be bailing them out now, those small businesses. You've got one in six of them going under. They're not going to be able to make it back.”

Trump then weighed in on the topic, saying that raising the minimum wage would inflict damage on small businesses owners and force them to layoff workers.

“How are you helping you small businesses when you’re forcing wages?” said Trump.

“What’s going to happen, and what’s been proven to happen, is when you do that these small businesses fire many of their employees," Trump added.

Biden fired in by saying that was “not true”, before the moderator reminded Trump that he had recently stated he would consider raising the minimum wage to $15 if he is elected to a second term.

Asked if it that was still the case, Trump responded: “I would consider it, to an extent, in a second administration, but not to a level that is going to put all these businesses out of business.”

Democratic presidential nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden delivers remarks on Covid-19 at The Queen theater on October 23, 2020 in Wilmington, Delaware.

Trump in favor of “state option”

Trump also added that he is favor of states setting their own minimum wage, highlighting that “Alabama is different than New York; New York is different than Vermont. Every state is different, it should be a state option”.

Biden responded by saying that a job that pays $6 or $7 an hour puts a person below the poverty line no matter what state they live in.

“These first responders we all clap for as they come down the street, because they’ve allowed us to make it, what’s happening? They deserve a minimum wage of $15. Anything below that puts you below the poverty level," Biden said.

“And there is no evidence that when you raise the minimum wage businesses go out of business,” Biden added. “That is simply not true.”