PunditFact checks a claim about minimum wage

St. Petersburg, Florida -- The debate over raising the minimum wage is front and center now that Seattle approved a plan to increase its hourly pay to $15. It has pundits going head to head about whether it's the right decision.

On ABC's "This Week," two editors were pitted against each other in the minimum wage debate. "The Nation" editor Katrina vanden Heuvel made a statement that goes against the popular understanding of who is affected by minimum wage policies.

Here's what she said:

"This is smart economics. It's good politics and it's morally right. First of all, only one out of 10 minimum wage workers today are teen age or a young person."

That claim caught the ears of fact-checkers. PunditFact looked to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

"According to their statistics, the number of Americans who are earning the federal minimum wage of $7.25, about 50 percent of them are in their teenage years or up to age 24. So that's like a young person," says Katie Sanders with PunditFact.

PunditFact got in touch with vanden Heuvel who pointed them to data from the liberal Economic Policy Institute that supports increasing the minimum wage.

"What they found is that 12.5 percent of the people that would benefit from raising the minimum wage to $10.10 would be teenagers. So that's kind of close to one in ten, even though it's not correct, but the more important thing is that's not how she framed it. She framed her statement as one in ten minimum wage workers today is teenagers or young people," says Sanders.

Because those statistics measure workers who might benefit from raising the minimum wage, not who is making that wage today, like she stated, PunditFact rates her claim, FALSE.


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