Labor Dept., Dems renewing push to hike minimum wage

Rep. Jan Schakowsky weighs in


This is a rush transcript from "Your World," July 24, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Taking the minimum wage to the max, not unions, the Labor Department, the government agency declaring today a day of action on the minimum wage, something you don't usually see government agencies involving themselves in, but something Democratic congresswoman from Illinois Jan Schakowsky strongly supports.

The congresswoman lived on the minimum wage for a week to see what it feels like.

I think that was the gist of it, right, Congresswoman?

REP. JAN SCHAKOWSKY, D-ILL.: Well, I'm just starting today. This is my first day.

CAVUTO: I apologize.

SCHAKOWSKY: So, I'm living it. Yes.

CAVUTO: And what are you discovering thus far?

SCHAKOWSKY: Well, even shopping was different.

Neil, if you're like me, I make a shopping list and go to the store, but I don't add up every single penny of what I'm going to spend and have to put things back on the shelf or weigh things before I buy them. I get what I want.

When you're living on $77 a week, which is what we're doing, the members of Congress that are living the wage, you have to consider ever single penny; $7.25 an hour puts you below the poverty level. That's the federal minimum wage. And so it's really hard. You have to plan everything. There's no spontaneity.

You can't stop at a vending machine, grab a Coke and move on.

CAVUTO: No doubt.

But critics will always say, well, if you want to increase the minimum wage, and dramatically so, as some cities, for example, Seattle, effectively doubling it, you won't even have that. Those jobs will go. The minimum wage jobs at this level will just disappear and you will have people who are just scrimping by having no money to scrimp by.

What do you say?

SCHAKOWSKY: Well, actually, the most studied economic issue has been the minimum wage.

And, in fact, it has not caused more unemployment. Right now, the states that have minimum wage higher than the federal minimum wage have more job creation than states that don't. So, there really is no evidence to show that. If everybody has to do it, there's no competitive disadvantage anywhere.

CAVUTO: We don't have enough of a track record, enough of a time to see whether the business is affected in terms of whether people let's say at a fast food restaurant, if you're raising your minimum wage and you have to hike the cost of your product, whether as many customers come into buy that product.

People in the fast food industry tell me that it just doesn't happen and they would have to lay off. You say that's bunk.

SCHAKOWSKY: I say it's bunk. I say there's no objective evidence to prove that.

But, beyond that, Neil, should people have to work full-time, 40 hours a week, if they're lucky to get a full-time minimum wage job, and still live in poverty, so that they can't make ends meet, have to work two or even three jobs...


CAVUTO: But if their rate goes up, Congresswoman and then those above them go up, and the wages go up while business is still sort of -- we are in a recovery year, but I think as even you would point out it's a sputtering recovery. Wouldn't that call into question the strength of this recovery?

SCHAKOWSKY: Well, I think what it says is that when you put money in the pockets of ordinary people, they are the job creators, because they're the ones that are going to go out to their local diner. They're going to spend money on their kids' clothes.

CAVUTO: Yes, but what about the people who create the jobs for them?

SCHAKOWSKY: The people who create the jobs, exactly. Those are the people who are creating the demand. They are the customers.

What businesses need are customers if they're going to hire more people. They're not going to hire more people if they don't have people that can actually buy the stuff, Neil.

CAVUTO: But the people who are on the minimum wage, they're a small sector of the overall population.

The argument is that a lot of them are young people who don't need it as a stand-alone wage. Even if there is truth to what you say, that those who have the effect on living on it just exclusively are feeling the impact, could we be doing more harm, could we be doing more harm than -- if everyone, including the high school or college kids working part-time, should they be given the same high minimum wage or should -- or would you tier it?

SCHAKOWSKY: The high minimum wage, $7.25?

First of all, Neil, let me set the record straight. Wrong again; 35 years old is the average age of a minimum wage worker. And so we're not talking about kids anymore that are just working these summer jobs

CAVUTO: How many are on the minimum wage?

SCHAKOWSKY: How many what?

CAVUTO: How many Americans are on the minimum wage right now?

SCHAKOWSKY: Well, I know that 28 million Americans would see a raise if the minimum wage were to go up.


CAVUTO: Less than two million, Congresswoman. I'm not minimizing any of these two million, but less than two million.

SCHAKOWSKY: No, no, no. That is not the right...


CAVUTO: Stand-alone minimum wage, less than two million.

SCHAKOWSKY: That's not right.

CAVUTO: Whatever virtues of that, do you think you could complicate it? Or would you be open to a multi-tiered wage, where let's say the high school kid doesn't get as much as the person who needs it full-time exclusively?

SCHAKOWSKY: I don't, because I think a lot of times nowadays, the youngsters that are working at a minimum wage are helping their family just make ends meet.


SCHAKOWSKY: Americans need a raise.

CAVUTO: All right. Congresswoman, thank you very, very much.

SCHAKOWSKY: Thank you. Appreciate it, Neil.

CAVUTO: We will get an update from you as the week ensues.


Content and Programming Copyright 2014 Fox News Network, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Copyright 2014 CQ-Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.