Nearly three-fourths of Americans favor raising the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour, while 26 percent oppose according to the latest Reason-Rupe poll. However, support flips and 57 percent oppose a hike if raising the minimum wage causes some employers to lay off workers or hire fewer workers, while only 38 percent would still favor the move. Nevertheless, 58 percent do not believe raising the minimum wage will harm jobs and 39 percent believe it will.
Assuming no cost to jobs, majorities of Democrats (88 percent), independents (70 percent), and Republicans (55 percent) favor raising the minimum wage. Self-identified libertarians are the only political group that opposes it (55 percent). Support declines with rising income and age, but majorities continue to support the proposal. Even a majority (53 percent) of tea partiers support raising the minimum wage, but they are twice as likely as non-tea partiers to oppose.
Republicans Are Divided On Raising the Minimum Wage
There is a considerable divide within the Republican Party over raising the minimum wage, even though a majority (55 percent) favor doing so. Democrats are more unified on this issue.
Among Republicans making less than $60,000 a year 63 percent support raising the minimum wage and 43 percent oppose. In stark contrast, only 35 percent of Republicans making more than $60,000 a year support a wage hike and 54 percent oppose.
A solid majority (64 percent) of young Republicans support raising the minimum wage, compared to 43 percent of Republicans over 55 years old. Instead a majority (53 percent) of older Americans oppose raising the minimum wage, compared to 36 percent of young Republicans.
Republicans who do not support the tea party movement favor raising the wage by a margin of 60 to 37 percent. In contrast, a majority of Republican tea party supporters oppose raising the minimum wage with 44 percent in favor and 52 percent opposed.
Support Flips When Possible Costs Are Considered
While majorities favor raising the minimum wage as a costless proposition, 57 percent would oppose and 38 percent favor if doing so were to cause job layoffs or slow job growth. Support flips as half of those who initially favored raising the minimum wage change their minds if it were to hurt jobs. This shift primarily occurs among young people (58 percent), African-Americans (61 percent), and women (52 percent). For instance, nearly two-thirds of unmarried women would switch their vote while 6 in 10 unmarried men would not.
It is relevant to know how Americans would make trade-offs between higher wages for some and possible job losses for others, particularly because the economics field has not reached a consensus on this matter. Some economists argue there will be no harm to jobs, for instance here, here, here, while others say there will be, for instance here, here, here.)
But Most Americans Consider Job Losses Unlikely, Except Republicans, Libertarians, and Tea Party Supporters
What ultimately drives public opinion on minimum wage, as with most public policy, is whether Americans actually believe raising wage floors will cost jobs or cost them personally. The poll found 39 percent believe raising the minimum wage will reduce jobs, 35 percent say it will have no impact, and 23 percent thought it would increase jobs. In sum, 58 percent do not expect the minimum wage to harm jobs.
The only groups in which a majority expects minimum wage increases to impact jobs include Republicans (54 percent), self-identified libertarians (67 percent), and tea party supporters (56 percent).
Groups who are most likely to reject the claim that the minimum wage harms jobs, include Democrats (70 percent), self-identified progressives (76 percent), and nonwhite Americans (71 percent).
Even Americans Who Think the Minimum Wage Reduces Jobs Will Still Favor an Increase Unless Jobs Are Explicitly Mentioned