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By Will Doran July 8, 2016

Hillary Clinton: Donald Trump wants to get rid of the federal minimum wage

In her speech in Charlotte on Tuesday, Hillary Clinton slammed Donald Trump’s economic platform.

Specifically, Clinton said, the Republican presidential nominee doesn’t want the U.S. government to guarantee that workers get a minimum wage.

"Donald Trump thinks wages are too high," Clinton said. "He actually stood on the debate stage and said that. And he wants to get rid of the federal minimum wage altogether. Well, I think anyone who is willing to work hard should be able to find a job that pays well enough to raise a family. So we’re going to increase the federal minimum wage and give the middle class a raise."

The Charlotte crowd cheered loudly for Clinton’s promise of a higher minimum wage, and it might not have just been because they were supporters.

A report released earlier this year by North Carolina non-profit MDC, which is focused on poverty and social justice issues, said that of the 100 largest metro areas in the country, Charlotte ranks 97th for upward mobility.

It defined upward mobility as a child born into a low-income family eventually moving into the middle or upper class. In fact, the report said, four of the six worst metro areas in the country were in North Carolina – Charlotte, Greensboro, Raleigh and Fayetteville.

Certainly a higher minimum wage would be popular to some, just as a lower minimum wage would be popular to others. We’re not here to debate what’s best, but rather to find out if Clinton’s description of Trump’s views are accurate.

Trump’s stance

As it turns out, Trump’s views on wages are all over the map. He did say at one Republican presidential debate that he thought wages are too high, but he has also later said that he doesn’t understand how people survive on the minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.

PolitiFact has previously noted his scattered opinions on wages, in an article devoted to tracking his evolving positions on a half dozen topics.

So we’ll look instead at the second part of Clinton’s attack. Did Trump really say the he wants to get rid of the federal minimum wage?

Like his other comments on wages in general, Trump’s stance on the federal minimum wage is a bit complicated to parse.

In May, he appeared on NBC’s Meet The Press, when host Chuck Todd attempted to pin him down on this very subject.

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Trump began by expressing sympathy for people working for the minimum wage, saying "I have seen what's going on. And I don't know how people make it on $7.25 an hour."

He immediately pivoted, saying that while he would personally like to see a higher minimum wage, he also wouldn’t do anything if elected to make it reality.

"I would like to see an increase of some magnitude," Trump told Todd. "But I'd rather leave it to the states. Let the states decide. Because don't forget, the states have to compete with each other."

Todd followed that up by asking if Trump thought the states should only be able to decide whether to raise their minimum wages from the $7.25 federally mandated minimum wage, or if there should be no federal minimum wage at all – giving states the option to go lower than $7.25 or have no minimum wage at all.

"But should the federal government set a floor?" Todd asked.

"No," Trump replied. "I'd rather have the states go out and do what they have to do."

Since that was now nearly two months ago, and Trump has been known to change his opinion on wages in the past, we reached out to his campaign to ask if he still believed that the federal government should not require a minimum wage. We did not hear back.

Trump has also said that the minimum wage should be left up to the states in at least four other TV and radio interviews.

Our ruling

Hillary Clinton said Donald Trump "wants to get rid of the federal minimum wage."

She is right. While Trump has said he personally thinks the minimum wage should be higher, he has also said that it should be up to the states and that the federal government should not set a nation-wide minimum wage at all.

We rate this claim True.

Our Sources

YouTube video, Hillary Clinton speech in Charlotte, NC, on July 5, 2016

NBC News, Meet The Press, transcript of May 8, 2016 show including Donald Trump’s interview on the minimum wage

NBC News, Meet The Press interview with Donald Trump on May 8, 2016, Trump’s statements on the minimum wage start at about 3:30 into the video

PolitiFact, May 11, 2016, "Trying to pin down what Donald Trump thinks about abortion, the minimum wage, taxes, and U.S. debt"

MDC, 2016 report, "North Carolina’s economic imperative: Building an infrastructure of opportunity"

The News & Observer, April 16, 2016, "Report says upward mobility is worse in NC than in US"

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More by Will Doran

Hillary Clinton: Donald Trump wants to get rid of the federal minimum wage

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