Politifact: Bernie Has No Evidence A $15 Minimum Wage Reduces Welfare

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The nonpartisan Politifact found in an analysis Thursday that Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders assertion that a $15 minimum wage would reduce food stamp reliance is unfounded.

Sanders has been an adamant supporter of raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. He argued in a tweet Wednesday that the increase could actually help reduce federal spending on food stamps, public housing and other forms of welfare by $7.6 billion annually. But Politifact found in an analysis that the claim is “mostly false.”

“Sanders’ tweet rests on an analysis of increasing the minimum wage to $10.10, not to $15,” Politifact wrote. “In reality, economists have never modeled potential job losses caused by increasing the minimum wage to $15, which would be more than double the current level.”

Politifact added that some studies have even found that raising the minimum wage might increase public assistance costs. Sanders based his conclusion on a study release by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI). The study found increasing the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 could save $7.6 billion. EPI has not yet looked at what impact a $15 minimum wage would have on welfare.

EPI has released numerous studies touting the benefits higher minimum wages can have. The research has often been cited by labor unions who support raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka serves as chairman for the group, and it has received huge contributions from unions.

“I don’t think we know definitively whether $15 would be different, because it is larger than the increases that have been rigorously studied,” EPI Researcher David Cooper told PolitiFact. “If you think $15 would have some sizable negative effect on employment or hours, it’s going to moderate those savings (on government assistance programs). We have no way to know by how much.”

Cooper adds increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour might result in more savings but there is no way to know at this point. Economists have been split on the impact such a high increase could have, but most generally agree at least some job loss is a risk. The debate has recently settled on whether the potential job loss outweighs the benefits of more more people escaping poverty.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office found both positive and negative results from increasing the minimum wage. It found any increase in the minimum wage will likely result in at least some job loss. The University of California, Berkeley found in a recent study that having less people in poverty outweighs the potential job loss.

Supporters of the $15 minimum wage increase say it could help lift people out of poverty. Those opposed have warned raising the minimum wage could actually hurt the very people it’s meant to help, by forcing employers to cutback on their workforce or raise prices to overcome the added cost of labor.

Nevertheless Sanders has remained a steadfast supporter of the increase. He introduced a bill in July designed to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour and has used the policy as a rallying point at many of his speeches. His primary rival former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been far less consistent but now claims to support the $15 minimum wage.

The Fight for $15 movement has been at the forefront of the minimum wage push. It has utilized rallies and media marketing campaigns to advocate for the policy. In just a few years the movement has made the increase an important policy issue. It has been marketed as a grassroots movement, but skeptics have expressed doubt.

Sanders did not respond to requests for comment by The Daily Caller News Foundation.

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