As the 2016 Democratic National Convention gets closer, political leaders and delegates from all over the country are talking about the state of minimum wages. However, no state and its democratic leaders are more concerned than those from Mississippi. The Magnolia State is among those with the highest unemployment and lowest minimum wage.
“The economy will go into turmoil if Donald Trump is elected,” said Hattiesburg attorney Michael Adelman, a Bernie Sanders delegate from the 4th Congressional District.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Mississippi has an unemployment rate of 5.8 percent as recent as May 2016. That is the eighth highest among all fifty states. Over 75 thousand Mississippians are unemployed.
The federal minimum wage is set at $7.25. No state can set their minimum wage lower than the federal limit resulting in minimum wages varying from state to state. States like California and Massachusetts have the highest minimum wages set at ten dollars per hour. New York’s is set at $9 and is scheduled to increase to $11 by the end of the year. Mississippi’s minimum wage of $7.25 is equal to that of the federal amount. Mississippi is not alone. Other southern states like Alabama, Louisiana, and South Carolina have no state minimum wage law.
With a growing unemployment rate in Mississippi, questions rise whether the minimum wage should be increased. The Democratic National Convention, set to take place in Philadelphia beginning July 25, looks to be the perfect opportunity for some Mississippi political leaders to bring attention to the issue.
“Raising the minimum wage to 15 dollars is essential. Keeping employees is a top priority,” said Adelman.
State Representative David Baria has different thoughts when discussing the minimum wage issue. Baria is a superdelegate supporting former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton.
Baria said this upcoming convention will be his first. He says he looks forward to learning from his colleagues and bringing attention to the state’s minimum wage when at the DNC.
“We need to increase the minimum wage to nine dollars an hour. I would love for people to get 15 dollars an hour. It would give more money to people to spend, but it wouldn’t be fair to employers,” said Baria.
Both Clinton and Sanders want to move into a direction of using cleaner energy. However, most of southern Mississippi’s job market is in the oil industry. Between jobs possibly getting cut and minimum wage not getting raised, many fear that the Magnolia State’s economy will have a tough time recovering.
Although both delegates are supporting two different candidates, the minimum wage is a top priority for both when they attend the DNC.