Just like President Trump, Sen. Elizabeth Warren is already fact-challenged.
Shortly after formally entering the 2020 presidential race on Dec. 31, Warren tried to highlight her commitment to the working class in an Iowa stump speech that called for a return to better days:
“When I was a kid, a minimum-wage job in America would support a family of three,” she said. “It would pay the mortgage, it would keep the utilities on; it would put food on the table. Today, a minimum-wage job in America will not keep a momma and a baby out of poverty. Think about that difference.”
Not so fast, Senator.
The fact is the good old days weren’t that good for minimum wage workers and their families.
Warren was born in Oklahoma City, OK on June 22, 1949, the fourth child of middle-class parents Pauline and Donald Jones Herring. She lived in Norman, OK until she was 11 years old, so she would have been a child of 10 there in 1959.
The federal minimum wage in 1959 was $1 an hour. A worker earning that amount and working 40 hours a week would have earned $2,080 a year.
Median family income in the United States in 1959 was $5,650, according to the U.S. Census. Mississippi took the honor of being the state with the lowest median family income, $2,884.
Oklahoma’s median income came in at $4,620 and Cleveland County, where Norman, OK is located, had a median family income of $5,067.
In other words, a family with one member employed full time and earning a minimum wage of $2,080 a year would have been hard-pressed to “pay the mortgage,…keep the utilities on; (and) put food on the table.”
In fact, families of three with an annual income of $2,080 and families of four with an annual income of $2973 would have been considered to be living in poverty in 1959, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
The reality? A family with one wage earner working full time for a minimum wage in 1959 wasn’t really much better off than a similar family today.
Somebody working full-time at today’s federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour earns just $15,080 a year – below the poverty line for even a family of two and $9,000 below the $23,850 poverty level for a family of four.
So, before she gets too nostalgic for the good old days, and before she makes another stump speech in her presidential campaign, Sen. Warren needs to do some homework.