Raising the minimum wage will be a key part of Hatch’s strategy for growing the number of working middle-class Iowa families. His 2014 challenge to Republican Gov. Terry Branstad is going to be about “enhancing the middle class, increasing their ability to make more and better choices for their families.”
Iowans working for minimum wage don’t enjoy the same choices as middle class families, Hatch said. They wouldn’t have to choose between food and medicine, for example.
“A low minimum wage makes those choices predisposed,” Hatch said. “Families make bad choices because they don’t have enough income.”
However, Hatch said, middle class is more than just an income. Citing Bureau of Labor Statistics data showing Iowa has ninth highest percentage of people working multiple jobs, Hatch said that some low-wage workers are middle class because they work 60 to 80 hours a week.
That, he said, takes them away from the “essence of the middle class.”
Middle class means “a family that is interacting with one another,” Hatch said. “There is a relationship between the middle class and their church, between the middle class and their government, the middle class and their schools.I have debated the effectiveness of a minimum wage with people in my life -- especially the raising of the minimum wage. I keep getting told that employers cannot afford to raise minimum wages. On the other hand, those earning $7.25 per hour (not to mention those earning slightly more than minimum wage) cannot afford to make purchases that feed back into their employers.
Everything is going up. Rent is increasing. Utilities are increasing. Cable is steadily increasing. The cost of gasoline is going up. So is the cost of bus passes and food and pretty much everything else. But wages aren't increasing -- or they aren't going up enough to meet rising expenses. That means that the working poor have barely enough to pay for the basics and not enough to support local businesses -- certainly not on a consistent basis.
Iowa's other leading Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Bob Krause, has already advocated for an increase of the minimum wage to $15.00 per hour.
Sadly, the GOP controls the Iowa House of Representatives so I don't see even a modest increase in the minimum wage any time in the near future.