Federal Minimum Wage

Two-Thirds of Voters Favor a $15 Federal Minimum Wage, $12 Gets Bipartisan Support

Tying the minimum wage to inflation is favored by nearly two-thirds

An in-depth study conducted by the Program for Public Consultation (PPC) at the University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy finds that two-thirds of American voters favor raising the federal minimum wage to $15, including a majority of Democrats but less than half of Republicans. However, there is bipartisan majority support for a $12 minimum wage.

The current federal minimum has been $7.25 since 2009, but most states have increased their minimum wages, with seven going as high as $15 an hour.

In the public consultation survey of 2,700 registered voters, respondents were presented background information on the minimum wage, as well as how the value of the minimum wage has changed with inflation over time. Next, they evaluated arguments for and against each policy proposal. The contents of the survey were vetted by experts from each side of the debate.

The proposal to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 over a five-year period was favored by 65% nationally, including 90% of Democrats and 64% of independents. Among Republicans, less than half supported the proposal overall (41%), but several demographic groups among Republicans were in favor: women (54%), households earning under $50k (58%) and people of color (56%).

Respondents were also given the opportunity to write in what they believe the minimum wage should be. A bipartisan majority chose $12 or higher (74%, Republicans 53%, Democrats 95%). Democrats went further, with a majority choosing $17 or higher (57%), as did independents with a majority choosing $15 or higher (60%).

The proposal to increase the minimum wage has frequently been paired with a policy of indexing it to inflation, so that its value stays roughly the same over time. This proposal was put forward most recently in the Higher Wages for American Workers Act by Sen. Cotton (R), and was supported by 63%, including majorities of Democrats (80%) and independents (65%), but just under half of Republicans (45%).

The sample was large enough to enable analysis of attitudes in very Republican and very Democratic Congressional districts based on Cook PVI ratings. The $15 proposal was favored by majorities in very red (57%) to very blue districts (79%). Majorities also supported indexing the minimum wage to inflation from very red (58%) to very blue districts (72%)

The survey was fielded online from February 1-14, 2023 with a probability-based national sample of 2,700 registered voters provided by Nielsen Scarborough from its larger sample, which is recruited by telephone and mail from a random sample of households. There is a margin of error of +/- 1.9%.

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