Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) spoke out today against President Obama’s proposal to raise minimum wage to $9.00 per hour an index it to inflation so that it keeps up with the economy saying it would negatively affect the ability of young workers to enter the workforce.
She went on to note that a higher minimum wage would prevent teenagers from “learning responsibility” like she did earning $2.15 an hour working as a retail employee in Mississippi as a teenager:
“What we’re hearing from moms and from school teachers is that there needs to be a lower entry level, so that you can get 16-, 17-, 18-year-olds into the process. Chuck, I remember my first job, when I was working in a retail store, down there, growing up in Laurel, Mississippi. I was making like $2.15 an hour. And I was taught how to responsibly handle those customer interactions. And I appreciated that opportunity.”
The problem is she failed to factor in the change in the value of the dollar since she was a teenager.
Think Progress was kind enough to do the math for us:
Blackburn was born in 1952, so she likely took that retail job at some point between 1968 and 1970. And according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ inflation calculator, the $2.15 an hour Blackburn made then is worth somewhere between $12.72 and $14.18 an hour in today’s dollars, depending on which year she started.
At that time, the minimum wage was $1.60, equivalent to $10.56 in today’s terms. Today’s minimum wage is equivalent to just $1.10 an hour in 1968 dollars, meaning the teenage Blackburn managed to enter the workforce making almost double the wage she now says is keeping teenagers out of the workforce.
You can watch her in action below: