Obama: The average minimum wage worker is 35


On April 26, Obama included this passage in his weekly address:

"Right now, there’s a bill that would boost America’s minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. That would lift wages for nearly 28 million Americans across the country. 28 million. And we’re not just talking about young people on their first job. The average minimum wage worker is 35 years old. They work hard, often in physically demanding jobs."

It’s pretty transparent that Obama is seeking to counter the notion that a wage hike would simply help teenagers taking a summer job or college students making some extra money slinging hash at the local diner.

But is Obama's specific claim that, "The average minimum wage worker is 35 years old" accurate?

The White House told us it used a study by the Economic Policy Institute. This is a liberal group that’s in tune with many of Obama’s policies, but for the moment, let’s put that aside.

The study looked at anyone earning less than $10.10 an hour, under the logic that raising the minimum wage to $10.10 wouldn’t just raise wages for those earning $7.25 an hour, but rather for everybody earning less than $10.10.

In addition, David Cooper, the author of the report, told PolitiFact that his calculations actually included everyone currently earning up to $11.10 -- a dollar more than Obama’s proposed minimum wage level. This decision was made on the assumption that anyone earning slightly above $10.10 at the time of the minimum-wage hike would also get a small boost, in order to keep them nestled correctly in a company’s wage hierarchy.

EPI found that the average age of workers earning under $11.10 is 35 years old.

If you don’t read Obama’s sentence closely, it would seem that he’s right. But actually, he muffed the talking point.

Whereas EPI’s study looked at workers who earned as much as four dollars an hour more than the federal minimum wage, Obama’s words referred to people who are actually being paid the minimum wage today.

We ran this by Cooper, the report’s author. He told PolitiFact that if you look at workers "at or near their effective state minimum wage," which he defined as within 3 percent of the minimum-wage level, the average age is 31.

That's in the ballpark but lower than the 35-year-old figure Obama cited.

In reality, the statistics on this specific point are murky. A different study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that 71 percent of minimum-wage workers are younger than 30 -- a starkly different picture of low-wage workers. But the BLS study has an important limitation -- it looked only at workers making exactly the federal minimum wage of $7.25 and below, so it doesn’t include workers from any of the 21 states and the District of Columbia that have enacted higher state minimum wages.

A few weeks earlier, the White House used the same EPI statistic correctly. In a tweet, White House spokesman Jay Carney touted an infographic that asked, among other things, "Who will raising the minimum wage actually help? … More than half work full-time. The average worker is 35 years old."

Carney’s claim focused on workers who will benefit from a wage hike, which is in line with what the study looked at. We rated that statement Half True, in part because the infographic ignored the different conclusion of the BLS study and relied only on one report from a friendly group.

This time, by contrast, Obama didn’t cite the correct number.

Our ruling

The White House had a point earlier this month when it tweeted that those who would benefit from a $10.10 wage hike average 35 years of age. But Obama’s subsequent comment was less accurate. In his weekly address, the actual statistic using the data from the same report is 31, and partial data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics suggests that the average age could be even lower than that. We rate the claim Mostly False.

Thanks to Ahren_nhb for the find!

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Recent Comments »

Cookie Monster site profile image  

5/4/14 4:31 AM by Cookie Monster

I was right. You are retarded. Either you not so artfully, willfully ignoring the point because you are obviously wrong or the point evades you. Ill dumb it down so even you can understand: increases in costs to do business (minimum wage increases, increases in healthcare costs, material costs, etc) are passed on to consumers in the way of higher prices. Also, unfortunately, increased costs of human labor discourage use of human labor. All of this is undeniable and real, sorry to break it to you. Despite your rants.

andyloveshugs site profile image  

5/3/14 6:18 PM by andyloveshugs

also you seem like a dumb fuck and your business are probably shitty and should be ended no matter what. you being a small business owner means nothing. adapt to a modern age with a higher living standard than ever before, or die. we don't need your terrible business, and no one cares about you and is willing for the masses to take a hit in living standards because you're a bad businessman who can't adapt. 

andyloveshugs site profile image  

5/3/14 6:16 PM by andyloveshugs

obamacare has nothing to do with that and is a bad system of healthcare that isn't up to par with nationalized healthcare like in france or germany.  you bringing that up shows how little you know about this.  and no it doesn't, and your status as a small business owner means nothing, and i can assure you i know millionaires business owners who make more than you who believe what i said, in the oil business nonetheless. it is a stupid douchebag move in general to try to pull that card. 

andyloveshugs site profile image  

5/3/14 6:12 PM by andyloveshugs

that's a good thing, that would still exist without minimum wage laws. you're not ever gonna be cheaper than a computer, without the working class living in slums and pissing on the side of the road. 

andyloveshugs site profile image  

5/3/14 6:11 PM by andyloveshugs

yeah well the reason they exist is because they didn't exist and were fought for by working class groups because they're needed. your laptop example is stupid and not the same at all and is retarded and basically saying any govt intervention is communism. i implore you to learn american and western history from the period of 1870-1935. 

andyloveshugs site profile image  

5/3/14 6:09 PM by andyloveshugs

exactly, the only argument in favor of not raising the minimum wage is retarded semantic b.s. that is proven to not work (well, for anyone other than corporations). that argument would extend to making the minimum wage 20 cents because if you deserved more than 20 cents you'd already be making it. "if you deserved enough money to feed yourself and cloth yourself and put a roof over your head, you'd be making it, now go be homeless you worthless fuck." 

Seven Heavens site profile image  

5/2/14 9:07 PM by Seven Heavens

Can anyone really debate that at age 35 if you still make minimum wage, and aren't disabled or mentally retarded, the odds of you being a total shit bag are tremendous if you're a man or childless female.

LotionInTheBasket site profile image  

5/2/14 3:45 PM by LotionInTheBasket

Ok, let's play a game. What so you do for a living, and how much do you make?Might take me a while to respond, taking my kid to his camping trip tonight.

LotionInTheBasket site profile image  

5/2/14 3:41 PM by LotionInTheBasket

I don't have to refute what you said, you're generalizing and coming with no facts. I was more or less trying to help you understand how shit really is, not bicker with you.

Pura Vida site profile image  

5/2/14 1:52 PM by Pura Vida

That's a good little slave, your masters are so proud of you. In honor of your obedience, they are going to break your legs, and then generously give you a pair of crutches.