Americans Feel the Nation’s Minimum Wage is Too Low, But Are Conflicted on whether $15.00 an Hour is Too Much

New York’s recent push to up wages for fast food workers seen as unfair to workers in other industries

09:55 AM EDT Aug 13, 2015 Rating
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Americans Feel the Nation’s Minimum Wage is Too Low, But Are Conflicted on whether $15.00 an Hour is Too Much

NEW YORK, N.Y. – A strong majority of Americans (72%) - crossing regional, political, generational, gender and income lines – believe the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour is lower than it should be. However, while Americans clearly feel minimum wage should be higher, exactly how high remains a more contentious subject.

When informed that some U.S. cities have introduced programs to grow their minimum wage rates to $15.00 per hour in the next few years, a six in ten majority of U.S. adults (59%) feel this rate is at least somewhat higher than it should be.

While resistance to this level of compensation likely has many causes, one that may be weighing on adults’ minds is concern over their own bottom lines: eight in ten Americans (81%) believe that a higher minimum wage would increase costs for consumers.

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,045 U.S. adults surveyed online between July 28 and 30, 2015.

When presented with key provisions from the New York State wage board’s recent recommendation to increase the minimum wage to $15.00 per hour for fast food workers at chains with more than 30 locations, sentiments were mixed toward many elements of it.

Big picture

Stepping back from which cities are planning what wage hikes and looking at these issues more broadly, a resounding 87% of U.S. adults agree – 52% strongly so – that raising the minimum wage only for fast food workers is unfair to workers in other industries.

Circling back to the contentious $15.00 figure, when asked directly whether they agree or disagree that the minimum wage should be increased to $15.00 per hour nationwide, Americans are divided down the middle at 50% each. Even drilling down to “strongly” agree and disagree responses reveals an all but even divide, with 29% strongly agreeing and 28% strongly disagreeing.

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TABLE 1a

CURRENT MINIMUM WAGE ($7.25/HR) TOO HIGH OR TOO LOW

By Gender, Political Party & Region

"The current minimum wage in the United States (i.e., the minimum amount employers are required to pay for most workers nationwide) is $7.25 per hour. Do you believe $7.25 is lower or higher than it should be?"

Base: All adults

 

Total

Gender

Political Party

Region

Male

Female

Rep.

Dem.

Ind.

Northeast

South

Midwest

West

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Lower than it should be (NET)

72

69

75

57

84

70

75

71

69

73

        A great deal lower than it should be

42

40

43

17

60

39

50

40

36

41

        Somewhat lower than it should be

30

29

31

40

25

31

25

31

33

32

Higher than it should be (NET)

10

13

7

12

9

11

12

11

8

9

        Somewhat higher than it should be

6

7

4

8

3

7

7

6

5

4

        A great deal higher than it should be

5

6

3

4

6

4

5

5

3

5

Neither too high nor too low

13

14

13

26

4

15

9

14

19

12

Don’t know

4

4

5

5

3

4

4

4

5

6

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

 

 

TABLE 1b

CURRENT MINIMUM WAGE ($7.25/HR) TOO HIGH OR TOO LOW

By Generation & Annual Household Income

"The current minimum wage in the United States (i.e., the minimum amount employers are required to pay for most workers nationwide) is $7.25 per hour. Do you believe $7.25 is lower or higher than it should be?"

Base: All adults

 

Total

Generation

Annual HH Income

Millennials (18-35)

Gen Xers (36-50)

Baby Boomers (51-69)

Matures (70+)

<$50k

$50k-<$75k

$75k-<$100k

$100k+

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Lower than it should be (NET)

72

70

75

71

75

78

76

70

63

        A great deal lower than it should be

42

42

43

44

29

48

41

35

36

        Somewhat lower than it should be

30

28

32

27

46

30

35

35

27

Higher than it should be (NET)

10

14

9

8

6

8

10

9

14

        Somewhat higher than it should be

6

8

4

5

6

4

7

5

7

        A great deal higher than it should be

5

7

6

3

*

4

3

4

7

Neither too high nor too low

13

10

13

17

14

10

12

19

19

Don’t know

4

6

3

4

4

4

2

1

4

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

 

 

TABLE 2a

$15.00/HR MINIMUM WAGE TOO HIGH OR TOO LOW

By Gender, Political Party & Region

"Some cities in the United States have instituted programs to gradually increase their local minimum wages to $15.00 per hour over the next few years. Do you believe $15.00 is lower or higher than the minimum wage should be?"

Base: All adults

 

Total

Gender

Political Party

Region

Male

Female

Rep.

Dem.

Ind.

Northeast

South

Midwest

West

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Lower than it should be (NET)

9

9

9

3

10

12

9

9

6

11

        A great deal lower than it should be

2

1

2

1

1

4

2

1

1

3

        Somewhat lower than it should be

7

7

7

2

9

8

7

7

6

8

Higher than it should be (NET)

59

61

56

81

41

62

56

59

63

56

        Somewhat higher than it should be

28

29

27

29

27

30

30

27

27

28

        A great deal higher than it should be

31

32

29

52

14

32

26

32

36

28

Neither too high nor too low

28

25

30

12

43

21

31

27

26

27

Don’t know

5

4

6

5

5

5

5

5

5

7

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

 

 

TABLE 2b

$15.00/HR MINIMUM WAGE TOO HIGH OR TOO LOW

By Generation & Annual Household Income

"Some cities in the United States have instituted programs to gradually increase their local minimum wages to $15.00 per hour over the next few years. Do you believe $15.00 is lower or higher than the minimum wage should be?"

Base: All adults

 

Total

Generation

Annual HH Income

Millennials (18-35)

Gen Xers (36-50)

Baby Boomers (51-69)

Matures (70+)

<$50k

$50k-<$75k

$75k-<$100k

$100k+

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Lower than it should be (NET)

9

11

10

8

2

9

10

3

8

        A great deal lower than it should be

2

2

2

1

*

1

*

--

3

        Somewhat lower than it should be

7

8

8

7

2

8

10

3

5

Higher than it should be (NET)

59

55

59

60

66

53

61

69

64

        Somewhat higher than it should be

28

28

28

26

32

26

32

34

26

        A great deal higher than it should be

31

27

31

33

34

27

29

35

38

Neither too high nor too low

28

28

28

28

26

32

27

24

22

Don’t know

5

6

4

5

6

5

2

3

6

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

 

 

TABLE 3a

SUPPORT/OPPOSE KEY PROVISIONS OF NYS WAGE BOARD RECOMMENDATION

"Recently, New York State’s wage board recommended that the state gradually increase its minimum wage to $15.00 per hour for fast food workers at chains with more than 30 locations. As recommended, the minimum wage is set to reach $15.00 per hour by the end of 2018 in New York City and by July 1, 2021 in the rest of New York State. 

Please describe how strongly you support or oppose each of the following key provisions of the New York State wage board’s recommendation."

Base: All adults

 

Support (NET)

Strongly support

Somewhat support

Oppose (NET)

Somewhat oppose

Strongly oppose

%

%

%

%

%

%

The deadline of the end of the year 2018 for New York City

53

16

37

47

24

23

The recommendation’s focus on chains with 30 or more locations

48

14

34

52

28

23

The statewide deadline of mid-2021

48

13

34

52

29

23

The recommendation’s focus on workers in the fast food industry

45

14

31

55

28

27

New York City and the rest of the state reaching a $15.00 minimum wage at different times

40

10

30

60

35

26

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

 

TABLE 3b 

SUPPORT KEY PROVISIONS OF NYS WAGE BOARD RECOMMENDATION

By Gender, Political Party & Region

"Please describe how strongly you support or oppose each of the following key provisions of the New York State wage board’s recommendation?"

Base: All adults

 

Total

Gender

Political Party

Region

Male

Female

Rep.

Dem.

Ind.

Northeast

South

Midwest

West

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

The deadline of the end of the year 2018 for New York City

53

53

53

30

69

52

51

53

50

57

The recommendation’s focus on chains with 30 or more locations

48

49

48

29

62

49

50

50

45

48

The statewide deadline of mid-2021

48

50

46

29

61

47

46

47

46

52

The recommendation’s focus on workers in the fast food industry

45

43

47

23

61

45

44

48

39

47

New York City and the rest of the state reaching a $15.00 minimum wage at different times

40

41

39

25

52

39

41

40

35

43

 

 

TABLE 3c 

SUPPORT KEY PROVISIONS OF NYS WAGE BOARD RECOMMENDATION

By Generation & Annual Household Income

"Please describe how strongly you support or oppose each of the following key provisions of the New York State wage board’s recommendation?"

Base: All adults

 

Total

Generation

Annual HH Income

Millennials (18-35)

Gen Xers (36-50)

Baby Boomers (51-69)

Matures (70+)

<$50k

$50k-<$75k

$75k-<$100k

$100k+

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

The deadline of the end of the year 2018 for New York City

53

60

48

49

52

55

51

46

51

The recommendation’s focus on chains with 30 or more locations

48

55

44

46

46

52

48

41

45

The statewide deadline of mid-2021

48

55

45

44

44

52

45

40

47

The recommendation’s focus on workers in the fast food industry

45

47

42

45

44

49

46

40

40

New York City and the rest of the state reaching a $15.00 minimum wage at different times

40

44

33

40

41

40

41

38

39

 

 

TABLE 3d 

OPPOSE KEY PROVISIONS OF NYS WAGE BOARD RECOMMENDATION

By Gender, Political Party & Region

"Please describe how strongly you support or oppose each of the following key provisions of the New York State wage board’s recommendation?"

Base: All adults

 

Total

Gender

Political Party

Region

Male

Female

Rep.

Dem.

Ind.

Northeast

South

Midwest

West

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

New York City and the rest of the state reaching a $15.00 minimum wage at different times

60

59

61

75

48

61

59

60

65

57

The recommendation’s focus on workers in the fast food industry

55

57

53

77

39

55

56

52

61

53

The statewide deadline of mid-2021

52

50

54

71

39

53

54

53

54

48

The recommendation’s focus on chains with 30 or more locations

52

51

52

71

38

51

50

50

55

52

The deadline of the end of the year 2018 for New York City

47

47

47

70

31

48

49

47

50

43

 

 

TABLE 3e 

OPPOSE KEY PROVISIONS OF NYS WAGE BOARD RECOMMENDATION

By Generation & Annual Household Income

"Please describe how strongly you support or oppose each of the following key provisions of the New York State wage board’s recommendation?"

Base: All adults

 

Total

Generation

Annual HH Income

Millennials (18-35)

Gen Xers (36-50)

Baby Boomers (51-69)

Matures (70+)

<$50k

$50k-<$75k

$75k-<$100k

$100k+

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

New York City and the rest of the state reaching a $15.00 minimum wage at different times

60

56

67

60

59

60

59

62

61

The recommendation’s focus on workers in the fast food industry

55

53

58

55

56

51

54

60

60

The statewide deadline of mid-2021

52

45

55

56

56

48

55

60

53

The recommendation’s focus on chains with 30 or more locations

52

45

56

54

54

48

52

59

55

The deadline of the end of the year 2018 for New York City

47

40

52

51

48

45

49

54

49

 

 

TABLE 4a

AGREE/DISAGREE WITH MINIMUM WAGE STATEMENTS

"How strongly do you agree or disagree with each of the following statements?"

Base: All adults

 

Agree (NET)

Strongly agree

Somewhat agree

Disagree (NET)

Somewhat disagree

Strongly disagree

%

%

%

%

%

%

Raising the minimum wage only for fast food workers is unfair to workers in other industries.

87

52

35

13

8

5

A higher minimum wage would increase costs for consumers.

81

42

38

19

14

5

All workers should be entitled to the same minimum wage, regardless of what industry they’re in.

76

45

32

24

14

10

All employers should be required to provide the same minimum wage, regardless of company size.

69

35

34

31

19

12

The minimum wage should be raised to $15.00 per hour nationwide.

50

29

21

50

22

28

There should not be a minimum wage requirement.

28

12

16

72

29

43

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

 


TABLE 4b 

AGREE WITH MINIMUM WAGE STATEMENTS

By Gender, Political Party & Region

"How strongly do you agree or disagree with each of the following statements?"

Base: All adults

 

Total

Gender

Political Party

Region

Male

Female

Rep.

Dem.

Ind.

Northeast

South

Midwest

West

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Raising the minimum wage only for fast food workers is unfair to workers in other industries.

87

84

90

90

86

86

89

85

89

87

A higher minimum wage would increase costs for consumers.

81

82

80

92

69

86

79

84

80

78

All workers should be entitled to the same minimum wage, regardless of what industry they’re in.

76

77

75

66

83

76

80

75

74

76

All employers should be required to provide the same minimum wage, regardless of company size.

69

69

69

54

80

67

71

71

67

65

The minimum wage should be raised to $15.00 per hour nationwide.

50

48

52

21

73

45

57

49

43

52

There should not be a minimum wage requirement.

28

29

27

37

21

29

25

30

25

31

 

 

TABLE 4c 

AGREE WITH MINIMUM WAGE STATEMENTS

By Generation & Annual Household Income

"How strongly do you agree or disagree with each of the following statements?"

Base: All adults

 

Total

Generation

Annual HH Income

Millennials (18-35)

Gen Xers (36-50)

Baby Boomers (51-69)

Matures (70+)

<$50k

$50k-<$75k

$75k-<$100k

$100k+

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Raising the minimum wage only for fast food workers is unfair to workers in other industries.

87

83

89

88

94

89

90

88

84

A higher minimum wage would increase costs for consumers.

81

78

78

82

91

79

81

85

85

All workers should be entitled to the same minimum wage, regardless of what industry they’re in.

76

78

80

75

68

81

76

72

72

All employers should be required to provide the same minimum wage, regardless of company size.

69

71

73

67

58

75

64

68

65

The minimum wage should be raised to $15.00 per hour nationwide.

50

58

49

45

44

59

50

39

41

There should not be a minimum wage requirement.

28

32

24

26

35

30

25

21

31

 

TABLE 4d 

DISAGREE WITH MINIMUM WAGE STATEMENTS

By Gender, Political Party & Region

"How strongly do you agree or disagree with each of the following statements?"

Base: All adults

 

Total

Gender

Political Party

Region

Male

Female

Rep.

Dem.

Ind.

Northeast

South

Midwest

West

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

There should not be a minimum wage requirement.

72

71

73

63

79

71

75

70

75

69

The minimum wage should be raised to $15.00 per hour nationwide.

50

52

48

79

27

55

43

51

57

48

All employers should be required to provide the same minimum wage, regardless of company size.

31

31

31

46

20

33

29

29

33

35

All workers should be entitled to the same minimum wage, regardless of what industry they’re in.

24

23

25

34

17

24

20

25

26

24

A higher minimum wage would increase costs for consumers.

19

18

20

8

31

14

21

16

20

22

Raising the minimum wage only for fast food workers is unfair to workers in other industries.

13

16

10

10

14

14

11

15

11

13

 

 

TABLE 4e 

DISAGREE WITH MINIMUM WAGE STATEMENTS

By Generation & Annual Household Income

"How strongly do you agree or disagree with each of the following statements?"

Base: All adults

 

Total

Generation

Annual HH Income

Millennials (18-35)

Gen Xers (36-50)

Baby Boomers (51-69)

Matures (70+)

<$50k

$50k-<$75k

$75k-<$100k

$100k+

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

There should not be a minimum wage requirement.

72

68

76

74

65

70

75

79

69

The minimum wage should be raised to $15.00 per hour nationwide.

50

42

51

55

56

41

50

61

59

All employers should be required to provide the same minimum wage, regardless of company size.

31

29

27

33

42

25

36

32

35

All workers should be entitled to the same minimum wage, regardless of what industry they’re in.

24

22

20

25

32

19

24

28

28

A higher minimum wage would increase costs for consumers.

19

22

22

18

9

21

19

15

15

Raising the minimum wage only for fast food workers is unfair to workers in other industries.

13

17

11

12

6

11

10

12

16

  

Methodology

This Harris Poll was conducted online, in English, within the United States between July 28 and 30, 2015 among 2,045 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online. 

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, The Harris Poll avoids the words “margin of error” as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Poll surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in our panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of The Harris Poll.

The Harris Poll® #49, August 13, 2015

By Larry Shannon-Missal, Managing Editor, The Harris Poll

About The Harris Poll®

Begun in 1963, The Harris Poll is one of the longest running surveys measuring public opinion in the U.S. and is highly regarded throughout the world.  The nationally representative polls, conducted primarily online, measure the knowledge, opinions, behaviors and motivations of the general public.  New and trended polls on a wide variety of subjects including politics, the economy, healthcare, foreign affairs, science and technology, sports and entertainment, and lifestyles are published weekly.  For more information, or to see other recent polls, visit us at TheHarrisPoll.com.

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