This article first appeared on the LendEdu blog.
Forget North Korea, healthcare, or Russian meddling. . .there is another hot-button issue that can go toe-to-toe with any of those dilemmas: minimum wage.
Keeping up with the happenings on “The Hill,” LendEDU commissioned a poll that asked millennials their views on raising the minimum wage. Millennials offer a first-hand perspective on this issue as many of them are just beginning their working experience, and thus many will take on jobs that offer the federal minimum wage, or close to it.
3,175 millennials were asked the following question: “Do you think the minimum wage should be raised to $15 an hour?”
The slight majority of millennials, 52 percent, stated that they do not believe the minimum wage should be hiked to $15 per hour. By comparison, 48 percent of respondents answered that the minimum wage should be raised.
Interestingly, these numbers fall in line with previous data related to the minimum wage topic from Pew Research Center. Pew’s data found that 51 percent of Americans ages 18 to 29 oppose raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. 49 percent of that same age group support an increase in the federal minimum wage.
Older Americans are actually more supportive of increasing the minimum wage. 54 percent of those ages 30 to 49 favor a wage hike, while 53 percent of Americans ages 50 to 64 also support an increase. Further, 51 percent of Americans ages 65 and older support the $15 minimum wage idea.
These numbers run contradictory to what many may believe. One would think that younger Americans would support a higher minimum wage because they are the most likely candidates to receive that compensation. For example, a study done by the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that American workers under the age of 25 made up roughly half of all workers paid the minimum wage or less, despite the fact that this age cohort only represents about 20 percent of hourly paid workers in the U.S.
Confused? Yea, so are we.
The issue of minimum wage has been driven to the forefront of Washington D.C. politics. Federal minimum wage has remained at $7.25 an hour since 2009, and it appears that some folks have become tired of that number and are ready to raise it.
Congress has not passed legislation to raise the federal minimum wage in 10 years. It has been eight years since the last federal increase. Over the span of those eight years, a movement has gained considerable momentum to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour.
Also during that time frame, many states and U.S. cities have passed minimum wage laws that raise pay in those areas above the federal standard. 29 states and Washington D.C. are amongst the places that have taken the issue of minimum wage into their own hands.
There are a few major cities that have raised their minimum wage to $15, the most recent being Minneapolis. You may have seen Seattle in the news recently for their minimum wage situation. Seattle’s minimum wage currently sits at $13 an hour, healthily above the federal level. A recent report by the University of Washington showed that Seattle’s wage hike to $13 an hour reduced wealth among low-wage workers because of job loss and reduced hours, two strategies employed by businesses trying to mitigate the wage increase.
Out of the 21 states that have yet to enact a policy that elevates their state’s minimum wage above $7.25, 17 of them have passed preemptive laws that disallow cities and counties from enacting their own minimum wage policies.
So, it appears that the minimum wage debate is strictly divided on partisan lines, making it highly doubtful the federal minimum wage gets to $15 an hour like many have been hoping for. It is worth mentioning that House and Senate Democrats introduced the Raise the Wage Act of 2017 in May. If passed, the bill would gradually raise the federal minimum wage to $15 by 2024.