August 20, 2013

Sharp divisions in GOP base on raising the minimum wage

FT_Wage_HikeProposals to raise the minimum wage, both nationally and locally, have gotten increased attention in recent weeks. President Obama renewed his call for a higher federal minimum wage during a speech on the economy at Knox College in Illinois last month. And fast-food workers in several cities have held one-day strikes or walkouts to demand higher minimum wages locally.

The public has long supported increasing the minimum wage. In a February survey by the Pew Research Center and USA TODAY, 71% said they favored raising the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $9.00 an hour, as Obama has proposed. Just 26% opposed raising the minimum wage. That is lower than the 84% who backed a higher minimum wage in January 2007, prior to the last increase in the minimum wage approved by Congress. (For more on this issue, see “Who makes minimum wage?” July 19, 2013.)

The proposal faces stiff opposition in Congress from Republicans, particularly in the House. After Obama called for raising the minimum wage in his State of the Union speech, House Speaker John Boehner said the action would cost jobs among lower-income workers (video from AP).

Overall, Republicans are evenly divided over raising the minimum wage (50% favor, 47% oppose). By contrast, large majorities of Democrats (87%) and independents (68%) support the minimum wage hike.

Within the GOP base, there are sharp educational and income differences over increasing the minimum wage. Six-in-ten (60%) Republicans and Republican-leaning college graduates oppose the proposal, while about the same percentage of Republicans who have not completed college (58%) favor it.

FT_GOP_WageHigher-income Republicans (those with family incomes of $75,000 or more) oppose a minimum wage hike by 57% to 40%. Republicans and GOP leaners with incomes of below $30,000 support it by about two-to-one (68% to 31%).

Tea Party Republicans (32% favor) are far less likely than those who do not agree with the Tea Party (60%) to support raising the minimum wage.

Democrats are far less divided internally. Fully 87% of higher income Democrats and Democratic leaners favor raising the minimum wage, as do 82% of those with lower incomes. And support for raising the minimum wage is nearly as extensive among conservative and moderate Democrats (83%) as among the party’s liberals (90%).

Topics: Work and Employment, Economic Policy, U.S. Political Parties, Domestic Affairs and Policy, Political Issue Priorities

  1. is a Research Analyst at the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.


  1. j anthony3 years ago

    shame on Boehner, Speaker, shame, SHAME! on any american, on republicans, that can in any way justify not raising OUR AMERICAN MINIMUM WAGE, SHAME ON YOU! ON ANY NOT HAVING DEMANDED, Not already ensuring each of your neighbors, those within this country of Dreams, as myself Honorably Discharged Veteran, Business owner, contributor of over $ in annual income tax and double that when you count my partner of 32 years and what we both, together contribute to this Democracy. REPUBLICAN, DEMOCRAT, PRESIDENT, SPEAKER, HUMAN, MAN, WOMAN, MILITARY, FATHER, MOTHER, there is no, none excuse for less than full support, full engagement of any but those in support of all Americans, all Citizens of this Country all that come here, are here, earn, work, live, die here, all, be equal in the eyes of life, the eyes of humanity, the eyes of compassion, care, intelligence, freedom, the eyes of each of us, America. Equality is not lack of medical care, or suffering purposeful by profit made rather than a child fed, a home kept. no america is not equal until the reasonable, fair treatment, access and ability of all to education, housing, food and self respect. not a 100% of the earnings of those called wealthy. no, that is not freedom any more than 20,000 patients to a Doctor in East Coachella Valley, Riverside California, ministered by flying doctors. No, the fraction is a need, yet the amount needs be a “matched amount, from and by those in need, from and by those of all free members of the society we make up, equally. equally as to United Citizen Service, Urban, Military, Medical, Educational, equal. the same with that and those budgets assigned for the very support of these silent interests of free world market leaders and all global manufactures in control of our consumable needs. military, industrial, technical, special interests, financial sector, no matter. human is only to see the right of an increased wage of survival and empowerment, medical care of equal access to all, education for any that seeks, needs and earns it.
    -j. anthony perez
    -j. anthony perez,

  2. unseen american4 years ago

    No matter what we raise minimum wage to… owners of large corps would raise end prices of commodities to sustain their maximum profits. Not keeping the minimum wage increases proportionate to inflation is nothing more than a trap into economic slavery. Not everyone is fortunate enough to find honest employers willing to pay fair wages either. There is a staggering number of unscrupulous employers who would rather toss out good seasoned employees in order to hire in “fresh meat” willing to work at entry level wages and leaving the experienced worker trapped in the situation of starting at the bottom again. Once caught up in this cycle, one is labeled as a job-hopper or as undependable. Trapped not only in the poorhouse, but imprisoned by unsustainable wages.

    1. analyst3 years ago

      If employers are ridding themselves of “more experienced” workers, in favor of new workers, then the experience must not be that valuable. If an employer is making more money, due to the greater experience of longer-term employees, they would keep them. The simple fact is many minimum wage jobs can be fully learned in a day or two; not much of an investment for an employer. Why should they pay more when the re-training comes at such a low cost of productivity. If you want more than minimum wage, learn a skill which makes it harder to replace you. If your skill set is so small, that a kid off the street can easily replace you, you are worth minimum wage. If your skill is important enough, that a business will be significantly impacted by your departure, then you are worth well more than minimum wage. Jobs like WalMart, BurgerKing, McDonalds, etc.. are very low skill jobs. They do not merit a “living wage”. If you want to raise a family, consider learning a useful skill and getting a real job before you decide to produce a family. Your poor planning, and inability to sacrifice to learn a useful skill, should not be a burden to society. Why should we pay more for your skill-less butt.

  3. Chantel Price4 years ago

    I totally agree that wages should be raised. Even I now the struggle with this and I have furthered my education in healthcare yet I still make less than $10 an hour. I am a single mother of three and I provide solely on my own for my family. It is almost impossible to make ends meet at times. The average rent for a 3 bedroom home is $850 & then you have lights, gas, water, telephone bills, and with today’s technology the kids needs internet just to complete homework assignments. Something must be done.

  4. Dolly4 years ago

    No matter how high the minimum wage gets raised there will always be poor people. Entry level jobs are jobs for people just entering the work force and should be a means to learn a good work ethic and a way to learn to manage their earnings. Everyone should start at the bottom and work up. If you start at the top the only place to go is down. If your work ethic is good you get raises. If you have ambition you find better paying jobs. Again, no matter how high the minimum wage is there will always be poor people, and I don’t mean just financially. Poor work ethics and poor in money management. Raise the minimum wage any more and the cost of living will continue to go up, making a raise worthless.