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2 in 3 Americans want $15 minimum wage

8/1/2019

2 in 3 Americans want $15 minimum wage

Across the U.S., support for paying the nation's lowest-earning workers a fair and livable wage has grown sharply in recent years. While the "Fight for $15" has really only become a mainstream talking point in the last four years or so, the extent to which it has been accepted among the general population is significant.

Indeed, a recent poll from Pew Research Center found that 67% of people nationwide are in favor of a $15 national minimum wage, including more than 2 in 5 who say they strongly support it. Another quarter somewhat support it. Only 15% - fewer than 1 in 6 - strongly oppose such a wage hike.

Moreover, a sizable majority of just about every demographic group - men, women, white, black or Hispanic - all support such an increase, with the lowest total seen among men. Nonetheless, 60% of men see such a wage hike as a positive, compared with 72% of women. Black respondents favored such an increase 93% of the time, including 4 in 5 who strongly support it.

In addition, nearly three-quarters of people in households making less than $40,000 per year want a $15 minimum wage, compared with 67% of those in households making between $40,000 and $74,000, as well as 61% of people in families earning $75,000 or more.

Who does it help?
It should come as little surprise that so many people with such diverse backgrounds support a sharp increase in the federal minimum wage - currently a meager $7.25 an hour. According to the Economic Policy Institute, about 33 million workers nationwide - more than 1 in 5 wage earners - would get a raise if the minimum were to rise to $15 per hour by 2025. That includes $6.2 million Americans currently living below the poverty line.

Will more need to be done?
While lawmakers in the House of Representatives recently passed a bill that would put that increase to $15 per hour by 2025 into place over the next several years, two issues linger, according to Bloomberg News. First is that such an increase is unlikely to pass the Senate and thus could stall out, and second is some consumer advocates believe $15 made sense a few years ago, but the number might need to be higher in the future due to inflation.

Indeed, because of inflation, a $15 minimum wage in 2012 - when the Fight for $15 got underway - is likely to be equal to less than $12 in 2025 dollars, the year the House's bill would finally see the minimum wage hit $15 after a long ramp-up, the report said. For the minimum wage at that point to be equal to $15 in 2012 money, it would need to be a few cents shy of $19 per hour.

When minimum wages are on the rise, it's incumbent upon businesses of all types to make sure they're out in front of the issue and boosting their own salary - and benefits - offerings for employees. Doing so helps ensure companies are able to continually attract and retain top talent in their fields.