During the fourth Republican debate, the candidates quickly dove into whether raising the minimum wage was good for the economy. And boy, did GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson have something to say. But many people quickly called into question the "statistic" he put forward about black teens' employment.
In response to whether or not Carson would, as president, raise the minimum wage for American workers, Carson stated that only 19.8 percent of black teens were employed. The Republican candidate explained that he recognized unemployment as a major issue for citizens, particularly in black communities. It Carson not-so-subtly stumbled over the 19.8 percent stat, throwing in at the end that the number applied to only those looking for work.
Turns out Carson's minimum wage stat wasn't just a tad off — it was seriously inaccurate. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the employment rate of black youth (16- to 24-year olds) was 44.7 percent in July 2015. In fact, the unemployment rate of black youth provided by the Bureau — 20.7 percent — was pretty close to Carson's employment stat.
But Carson's claim wasn't to imply that he would indeed raise the wage, so that the small number of black teens he made reference to might be able to earn more. He went on to share another statement that (sort-of) made clear his view on increasing the minimum wage: every time the minimum wage increases, the number of jobless people also increases. It's because of this already-high wage, according to Carson, that the percentage of employed black youth is so low.
The U.S. Department of Labor says differently, however. In a post on "Minimum Wage Mythbusters," the department specifically debunked the claim that increasing the minimum wage will cause people to lose their jobs. The post references a letter written by over 600 economists to President Obama and congressional leaders, which states:
Increases in the minimum wage have had little or no negative effect on the employment of minimum-wage workers, even during times of weakness in the labor market.
And just in case viewers were confused by Carson's seemingly empathetic sentiment about the extremely high number of black youth who are without jobs, moderator Neil Cavuto made sure to get Carson's final word on the issue. No, Carson said, he would not raise the minimum wage. OK, we get it, Carson.