In every state, the minimum wage is lower than what residents want, study says
The United States has one of the lowest minimum wages of the world’s wealthy nations. It may come as no surprise, then, that minimum wage increases are popular with voters: An August 2016 Pew Research Center survey, for instance, found that 58 percent of Americans supported doubling the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $15, with 41 percent opposed.
But Republicans in Congress have shown little interest in increasing the minimum wage in recent years. As a result, most minimum wage action now happens at the state level: In 2018 alone, minimum wage increases went into effect in at least 18 states.
But even at the state level, politicians aren’t particularly responsive to what voters want as the minimum wage. That’s been underscored in research published this month in the American Journal of Political Scienceand showing that in every state in the union, the minimum wage is well below what that state’s residents say they prefer.
“On average, state minimum wages are set at a level approximately two dollars per hour lower than the wage state residents would prefer,” the researchers found.
Arriving at this conclusion was fairly straightforward: In a nationally representative survey, the researchers told state residents what their state’s minimum wage was and followed up with an open-ended question about what respondents thought the minimum wage should be.