Stand up for facts and support PolitiFact.

Now is your chance to go on the record as supporting trusted, factual information by joining PolitiFact’s Truth Squad. Contributions or gifts to PolitiFact, which is part of the 501(c)(3) nonprofit Poynter Institute, are tax deductible.

More Info

I would like to contribute

U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan argued for more vocational training while speaking at a machine shop in Greendale Wis. on Aug. 31, 2017. (Rick Woodl/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan argued for more vocational training while speaking at a machine shop in Greendale Wis. on Aug. 31, 2017. (Rick Woodl/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan argued for more vocational training while speaking at a machine shop in Greendale Wis. on Aug. 31, 2017. (Rick Woodl/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

Tom Kertscher
By Tom Kertscher September 11, 2017

Tweets mislead saying Wisconsin's Paul Ryan doesn't know what the minimum wage is in his home state

Twitter users skewered the speaker of the U.S. House with this attack:

Paul Ryan doesn’t know what the minimum wage is in Wisconsin.

Numerous tweets, made on Sept. 11, 2017, and more so over the previous several days, suggest the Janesville Republican has no idea what the minimum hourly rate of pay is in his home state.

But that’s not really what went down.

Live interview

On Sept. 7, 2017, Ryan was on a live webcast interview with the New York Times before an audience in Washington, D.C. The newspaper described it as "the first in a provocative new TimesTalks D.C. series."

At one point, Jonathan Weisman, deputy Washington editor for the Times, asked: "What’s the minimum wage in Wisconsin right now?"

Ryan immediately said, "Seven --" then looks upward, apparently trying to recall the rest.

Then he says: "What is it? Seven and t--."

Perhaps he was starting to say twenty-five, or some figure in the twenties.

Featured Fact-check

At that moment, there’s a response from the audience, Ryan looks to the audience and correctly says: $7.25.

So, if Ryan didn’t know the rate exactly at that moment, he certainly was in the ballpark.

Wisconsin’s $7.25, by the way, is the same as the federal minimum wage, both of which have been in place since 2009.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, as of July 1, 2017, Wisconsin and Iowa were among 14 states with a minimum wage at $7.25 per hour. Twenty-nine states, plus the District of Columbia, had higher rates, with D.C.’s being the highest, at $12.50.

The federal rate applies in states that have minimum wage laws at rates below the federal rate, or that have no minimum wage law at all.

For the record, a Times news article said Ryan made it clear in the interview that he opposes legislation to change the federal minimum wage, saying: "For every wage you raise, you actually end up losing jobs. You end up destroying jobs."

Our rating

Tweets say: "Paul Ryan doesn't know what the minimum wage is in Wisconsin."

Asked the amount in an interview, Ryan didn’t give a complete answer until he heard what a member of the listening audience said.

But he had immediately started his answer by saying "Seven," and seemed on the verge of adding 25 cents, or some figure in the twenties, before the audience member interjected. That’s when Ryan correctly said $7.25.

For a statement that contains only an element of truth, our rating is Mostly False.

Share the Facts
3
1
7
PolitiFact rating logo PolitiFact Rating:
Mostly False
"Paul Ryan doesn't know what the minimum wage is in Wisconsin."
On Twitter
Monday, September 11, 2017

Our Sources

New York Times, "4 Takeaways From The Times’s Interview With Paul D. Ryan," Sept. 7, 2017

Email, Paul Ryan press secretary Ian Martorana, Sept. 11, 2017

New York Times, webcast interview of Paul Ryan, Sept. 7, 2017

YouTube, clip of Paul Ryan interview, Sept. 7, 2017

Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, "Minimum wage," accessed Sept. 11, 2017

U.S. Department of Labor, "Minimum wage," accessed Sept. 11, 2017

Raw Story, "‘Mythical Ayn Randian utopia’: Internet brutalizes Paul Ryan for not knowing Wisconsin’s minimum wage," Sept. 8, 2017

Browse the Truth-O-Meter

More by Tom Kertscher

Tweets mislead saying Wisconsin's Paul Ryan doesn't know what the minimum wage is in his home state

Support independent fact-checking.
Become a member!

In a world of wild talk and fake news, help us stand up for the facts.

Sign me up