Poll: More Americans on both sides of the political spectrum want higher minimum wages

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Support for increasing the federal minimum wage is higher than it was before the coronavirus pandemic took hold.

  • Sam dunklau

Sam Dunklau of WITF produced this story as part of the America Amplified Initiative using community engagement to inform and strengthen local, regional and national journalism. WITF and StateImpact Pennsylvania are part of America Amplified, a public media initiative funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

(Harrisburg) – The coronavirus pandemic has laid bare the challenges faced by essential workers, who sometimes struggle to make ends meet on minimum wage.

But a new survey released this week shows more Americans are supporting increasing the federal minimum wage than they did before the pandemic took hold.

Seven in 10 people said they would support this, and that support has increased since the start of the pandemic, mostly among Republicans.

Before the COVID-19 hit, 48% of people who identify as Republicans said they wanted a higher minimum wage. Now nearly 62 percent of GOP supporters have said it was a good idea.

Public agenda / USA Today / Ipsos

The Ipsos poll conducted between August 28 and 31, 2020 on behalf of Public Agenda and USA Today. The survey has a credibility interval of plus or minus 3.3 percentage points for all respondents.

This is just one of many takeaways from the Public Agenda, USA Today and Ipsos Hidden Common Ground survey, which showed a broad bipartisan understanding of a range of economic issues.

More than 1,100 people who took part in the study gave their opinions on “economic opportunities and inequalities”. They took into account statements such as “It is okay for rich people to get rich as long as everyone has a good chance of being successful as well.”


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Andrea Evans of Elk Grove Village, Illinois, said that as a Republican supporter, she agreed with the idea.

“I don’t think they should be penalized with any extra payoff as long as people who aren’t rich at the start have the same opportunity,” Evans said.

Participants also weighed in on ideas to help balance things out, such as whether government should do more to lift people out of poverty.

Nova Powell, a Democrat who lives in Pettibone, Texas, said his neighbors could really use this help, especially as the pandemic has put everyone to the test.

“Around us are people who are barely getting by,” Powell said. “The reason they are doing is how little government support is still coming out of social security and so on.”

When asked what the country should do to make the economy work for more people, James Barge of Ellwood City, Pa., He said he was in dire need of helping small businesses go forward. Big companies, Barge said, have more advantages, even when it comes to surviving a pandemic.

“Big business has found a way to get hold of [Paycheck Protection Program] the money that was supposed to go to small businesses, and a lot of them took it and didn’t return it, ”Barge said.

David Schleifer, research director of the non-partisan group Public Agenda, helped lead the investigation.

He said that in other recent polls on issues such as immigration, there is real disagreement and even misinformation on these topics.

But those differences seemed to blur when it came to economic issues.

“We really found this tremendous degree of agreement between the parties on just about everything we asked for in the investigation,” Schleifer said.

The majority of Republicans, Democrats and Independents polled agreed that the country should, for example, improve its infrastructure and retrain adult workers in unsustainable industries for jobs in fields like technology.

Public agenda / USA Today / Ipsos

The Ipsos poll conducted between August 28 and 31, 2020 on behalf of Public Agenda and USA Today. The survey has a credibility interval of plus or minus 3.3 percentage points for all respondents.

And support for a higher federal minimum wage was clear – among Democrats and Republicans alike.

One of those Republicans is Donna Stump of Camp Hill, Pa.

“I’ve been there! I worked for minimum wage and I know how hard it is to be successful in this world when you earn minimum wage,” she said.

Stump said she has seen the cost of goods skyrocket in her lifetime and wages have not kept up.

Hope Pesner, who lives in Elizabethtown, Pa., Said she couldn’t reveal her party affiliation because of her employer. For her, the inequality resulting from a low minimum wage is quite clear:

“Some things strike me as wrong,” Pesner said. “You know, people who are paid $ 7.25 an hour or $ 7.50 an hour or whatever minimum wage is now is just ridiculous, whereas there are people who make 200 dollars an hour by consulting. “

One Republican, David Garrett of Naugatuck, Connecticut, has a more nuanced view: Small businesses need to be able to afford any pay rise.

“We should probably raise the minimum wage to try to bring people up to a standard of living,” Garrett said. “Corn, [there] must be a balance as to the amount of this increase. “

The point of view of electronics engineer Bud Jamison is simpler. He said raising the minimum wage is now more urgent for workers he sees struggling in his hometown of San Diego, California.

“Especially now, with COVID causing so many people to lose their jobs, they have absolutely no savings, I think it’s even more critical,” Jamison said.

You can’t really tell from the poll what effect the pandemic has had on what people think of a higher minimum wage. But researcher Schleifer said there could be more understanding.

“Maybe there is a feeling that minimum wage jobs should provide people with a living wage, and maybe there is a growing awareness of the financial vulnerability of people working minimum wage. “said Schleifer.

Congress recently considered raising the federal minimum wage, but – unsurprisingly – did not follow through. An effort passed by the House last year awaits Senate action.

But as the poll results show, more and more Americans are saying something needs to be done to make the economy fairer.

Public agenda / USA Today / Ipsos

The Ipsos poll conducted between August 28 and 31, 2020 on behalf of Public Agenda and USA Today. The survey has a credibility interval of plus or minus 3.3 percentage points for all respondents.

Behind this story

Sam Dunklau of WITF produced this story as part of the America Amplified Initiative using community engagement to inform and strengthen local, regional and national journalism. America Amplified is a public media initiative funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Sam reported on a nationwide survey that asked people about their feelings about the economy to explore what measurable agreement Americans have on these topics.

Q: What did people you spoke to say about the experience of being interviewed for public radio?

Most people enjoyed the experience! Some even asked where the story will be posted, and I promised to send all of them a link to it once it gets published.

This story involved a lot of cold phone calls to survey participants across the country. Once I explained who I was and why I was calling, most people remembered taking the survey and were only happy to give more in-depth insights into why they were calling. answered questions in a certain way.

Q: What surprised you about this type of community engagement?

I was surprised at the number of people who actually picked up the phone to chat with me. So many people are used to receiving robocalls these days that they ignore a number they’ve never seen before, especially a number as far away as where I’m reporting in central Pennsylvania.

I was also surprised at the frankness and willingness of the callers to share their thoughts on the economy. Most people’s responses were rooted in personal experiences at work or with family members or neighbors struggling to make ends meet. I was able to verify the survey results quite easily: Most people, regardless of party, largely feel the same about the US economy and what the government can do about it. works for more people.

That being said, there is some disagreement about how to approach taxing the rich and the concept of hard work rewarding. But most people have at least an understanding of other people’s economic situation.

Q: What lessons do you have for others who want to do the same?

Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone! Have a somewhat elaborate script in your head and have a list of questions ready to be triggered once someone answers. Be prepared to pivot if he wants to talk about something more personal, and be prepared to dig deeper if he’s voicing an opinion you haven’t heard yet.

If media people like us want to do a better job telling the stories of our communities, any practice we can adopt to talk to people who are not paid to be filmed will make all the difference.

Public agenda / USA Today / Ipsos

The Ipsos poll conducted between August 28 and 31, 2020 on behalf of Public Agenda and USA Today. The survey has a credibility interval of plus or minus 3.3 percentage points for all respondents.



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