(WASHINGTON) -- Two-thirds of Americans in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll support increasing the minimum wage, reflecting majority sentiment that current federal government policies favor the wealthy. Those who support a higher minimum wage even have a recommended level: The average response in this group is $10.25 per hour, very close to the $10.10 proposal endorsed by Barack Obama and now before the U.S. Senate.
Support for raising the minimum wage is linked to broader concern about income inequality, a theme sounded by Obama in a speech Dec. 4. Sixty-four percent of Americans say federal policies currently favor the wealthy, and 57 percent say they would support efforts to try to reduce the wealth gap in this country. Support for boosting the minimum wage soars in both those groups.
Currently $7.25 an hour, the federal minimum wage last was raised in 2009. Obama urged making it $9 in his 2013 State of the Union address, and more recently backed the $10.10 proposal. At the state level, lawmakers in California, New York, Connecticut and Rhode Island have increased minimum wages in the past year, and New Jerseyans voted in an $8.25 minimum last month.
This poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates, offered pro and con arguments on the issue, noting that some say the minimum wage should be raised “to help low-income workers get by,” while others say taking such action “will lead some businesses to cut jobs.” The result is 2-1 in favor: Sixty-six percent support raising the minimum wage, while 31 percent oppose it.
Intensity of sentiment is even more lopsided: Nearly half, 48 percent, “strongly” support raising the minimum wage, vs. 20 percent who are strongly opposed.
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