Brandon Presley, the Democratic candidate for governor, talks about jobs and taxes during a news conference at Conkrete Sneaker Boutique in Jackson, Miss., Thursday, June 22, 2023. Credit: Eric Shelton/Mississippi Today

Brandon Presley, the Democratic nominee for governor, said at a campaign event on Tuesday that he believes Mississippi’s minimum wage, currently set at the national minimum wage of $7.25, should be increased to a higher dollar figure. 

“I think there’s support in the Legislature to do that,” Presley told reporters. “There’s pretty good evidence and some past actions that, I think, there could be some common sense reform to that.”

The federal minimum wage mandates that all employers have to, at least, pay employees $7.25 an hour. But states can enact their own laws requiring employers to pay workers wage higher than the federal minimum.

Mississippi is one of five states, all located in the South, that do not have a state minimum wage law on the books, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s website. The federal minimum wage prevails in states that do not have a minimum wage set in statute.

The U.S. Department of Labor also reports that 15 states have a minimum wage equal to the federal minimum wage, and 30 states, plus the District of Columbia, have a minimum wage higher than the federal minimum.

The District of Columbia, at $16.10 an hour, has the highest minimum wage in the nation.

Speaking to reporters after an event at Tougaloo College, a private historically Black university, Presley declined to name a specific amount for an increased state minimum wage, but he stressed that the current figure is too low for most Mississippians. 

“We’ll work with the Legislature on that,” Presley said. “Definitely, $7.25 is not the figure.” 

Communications officials with Gov. Tate Reeves’ campaign did not respond to a request for comment on Presley’s remarks.

Presley will participate in a debate against Reeves on Nov. 1, and the two candidates will compete in the general election on Nov. 7.

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Taylor, a native of Grenada, covers state government and statewide elections. He is a graduate of the University of Mississippi and Holmes Community College. Before joining Mississippi Today, Taylor reported on state and local government for the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, where he received an award for his coverage of the federal government’s lawsuit against the state’s mental health system.