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Iowa Democrat Says $15 Wage Hike ‘Will Cause Harm’ in State, Still Supports It

Rep. Cindy Axne (D., Iowa) / Wikimedia Commons
• March 4, 2021 6:10 pm

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Iowa Democratic congresswoman Cindy Axne supports raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, even though it would have a crippling impact on small businesses in her district, she said in a Thursday interview.

Axne, reelected for a second term in the House last November, said in an interview with KMA Land that her party's proposal to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025 will carry significant costs for the rural Iowans she represents. "In particular in rural Iowa, this will cause harm," Axne said in the interview.

On a national level, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that a minimum wage hike to $15 an hour would cost 1.4 million American jobs by 2025. Axne argued, however, that the job losses would be worth it to avoid problems that stem from keeping wages low in states like Iowa, where the cost of living is far less than in urban areas.

"I want to get us there, because we cannot have a state like Iowa not have $15 an hour, because then we'll see a brain drain, and more of our younger Iowans leaving our state to go to states surrounding us that have it," Axne said. "We'll also see businesses come in that pay low. That's not the kind of businesses we want in Iowa."

Axne voted for the minimum wage hike as part of the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package that passed in the House, but the Senate's parliamentarian ruled that the provision had to be stripped from the bill. Democrats, who have been "left scrambling" since the parliamentarian's decision, will need to find a different mechanism to pass the wage hike. Even if a standalone wage hike can pass through the House, it faces an uphill battle in the Senate, where key Democrats have already stated that they oppose it.

Research from the Employment Policies Institute found that a $15 minimum wage hike would cost 33,080 Iowans their jobs over the next six years.

Published under: COVID-19, Iowa, Minimum Wage