Gallup published a new poll Wednesday that found an overwhelming number of Americans support President Barack Obama’s proposal to increase the federal minimum wage to $9. Close to three-quarters (71 percent) support minimum wage hikes, even though the anti-poverty measure hasn’t been proven to be a successful policy since its introduction in 1938.
“Tonight, let’s declare that in the wealthiest nation on Earth, no one who works full time should have to live in poverty, and raise the federal minimum wage to $9 an hour,” the president said in his State of the Union address earlier this year.
The most support came from Democrats (91 percent), liberals (94 percent), independents (68 percent) and moderates (75 percent). Conservatives and Republicans were mostly split on the issue, with 54 percent and 50 percent in support, respectively.
There is tremendous overall support for minimum wage hikes, but it isn’t high as it used to be: between the years 1996 and 2000, as high as 83 percent of Americans favored raising the minimum wage. Gallup officials questioned if there was less support because the president’s proposal would boost the minimum wage by $1.75, which would be the largest increase ever. In the last three increases, each was 70 cents.
Another element that could suggest diminishing support is that minimum wage increases tend to lead to employers to cut back on staff levels or reduce their workers’ hours. Also, the policy, which has been discussed before on Economic Collapse News, is that it hurts certain sectors of society, such as unskilled, youth and immigrants.
“Americans’ support for boosting the minimum wage may be a bit dampened by continued high unemployment, and could reflect public awareness of critics’ argument that raising the minimum wage causes employers to cut back on workers, thereby hurting the low-income population the wage is designed to help,” Gallup wrote in its Bottom Line segment.
“At the same time, others argue that the minimum wage has not kept up with the cost of living, and even at $9 would be lower in real dollars than what it was in earlier decades. In the end, it may be a sense of charity to the low-income that has historically compelled Americans to generally favor an increase in the minimum wage, whatever the wage is or will be.”
This week, Iowa Democratic Senator Tom Harkin and California Democratic Congressman George Miller submitted a proposal called the “Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013” to increase the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour and tie it to the level of inflation. It already has garnered support from private companies, including Costco.
“Instead of minimizing wages, we know it’s a lot more profitable in the long term to minimize employee turnover and maximize employee productivity, commitment and loyalty,” said Craig Jelinek, Costco president and CEO, in a statement. “We support efforts to increase the federal minimum wage.”
The group Business for a Fair Minimum Wage claims that studies have shown that the minimum wage does not lead to job losses. However, in the science of economics, empirical studies cannot prove or disprove that minimum wage laws lead to more or less employment. Instead, when a company charges more for a product then its clientele will not purchase the item.
“In truth, there is only one way to regard a minimum wage law: it is compulsory unemployment, period. The law says: it is illegal, and therefore criminal, for anyone to hire anyone else below the level of X dollars an hour,” wrote Austrian economist Murray N. Rothbard in his book “Making Economic Sense.”
“This means, plainly and simply, that a large number of free and voluntary wage contracts are now outlawed and hence that there will be a large amount of unemployment. Remember that the minimum wage law provides no jobs; it only outlaws them; and outlawed jobs are the inevitable result.”
On Jan. 1 of this year, 10 states – Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Montana, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington State – increased their minimum wages on average by 10 to 15 cents.
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