In today’s economy, with rising prices and the increasing cost of living, the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour falls far short. Since 2009, this rate has remained stagnant, leaving workers grappling to meet their basic needs.
However, recent survey results highlight a growing consensus among voters that change is necessary.
A Reasonable Wage: The Data for Progress survey is aimed to determine what voters believe constitutes a reasonable and livable wage. When asked about the earnings required for a decent quality of life, voters expressed a resounding sentiment: the average American should earn $26 per hour to afford basic necessities comfortably.
See Also: A History Of The Minimum Wage
Delving Deeper: The survey presented predetermined options to 1,244 voters, seeking their opinions on the income workers need to make ends meet. A striking 63% agreed that workers should earn more than $20 per hour. This sentiment transcends party lines, with majorities of Democrats, Independents and even Republicans supporting the notion.
Examining Specific Proposals: The survey further examined specific minimum wage increases: $12 per hour, $17 per hour, and $20 per hour. All three proposed increases received widespread support, even among Independents and Republicans. A $12 minimum wage enjoyed a robust +72-point margin of support, while a $17 minimum wage and a $20 minimum wage boasted +54-point and +49-point margins, respectively.
Bipartisan Backing: The overwhelming support for higher minimum wages extends beyond party affiliations. Democrats demonstrated an approval rate of at least 89%, strongly favoring all three proposed increases. Independents also expressed robust support, with approximately three-quarters backing each proposal. Notably, Republicans showed significant backing, with no marked difference in support between a $17 minimum wage and a $20 minimum wage.
Why It Matters: Picture yourself working a full-time job at the minimum wage. You would earn around $1,300 per month, barely enough to cover rent in most states. When you factor in essential expenses like groceries, utilities, childcare, health insurance, and transportation, making ends meet becomes an insurmountable challenge.
Voices In Support: Some of the major corporations that have supported raising the minimum wage include retail giant Costco Wholesale Corporation COST, whose CEO has said it improves employee retention and boosts productivity and Jeff Bezos-founded Amazon.com Inc AMZN, which in 2018 announced a company-wide minimum wage increase to $15 per hour.
Among politicians, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) have been vocal advocates of raising the minimum wage to address income inequality and ensure economic justice.
Opposing Camps: The National Restaurant Association, which represents the interests of the restaurant industry, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the largest business lobbying group in the country, have always maintained a cautious stance when it comes to supporting minimum wage raises. They argue that it could have adverse effects on business growth, particularly for small and medium-sized enterprises.
Politicians who have expressed similar reservations include Senate Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and former chair of the House Ways and Means Committee Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX).