SEATTLE--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Today, global market research firm Ipsos released a new, comprehensive federal minimum wage study, which polled more than 6,000 Americans on their knowledge of and opinions on the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. The study confirmed that the vast majority of Americans agree that the federal minimum wage is too low and should be increased to at least $15 per hour. In addition, the study highlighted the difficulties for those earning less than $15 per hour to afford basic necessities, the significant impact increasing the federal minimum wage would have on American lives, and the role that large businesses should play in increasing the minimum wage.
In 2018, Amazon raised its starting wage for all U.S. employees to at least $15 an hour, and today well over half of all Amazon front-line employees in the U.S. earn more than $15 an hour.
The findings in this study reveal a widely held view that the current amount of $7.25 an hour is too low.
- Eight in ten Americans (80%) say the federal minimum wage is too low. This consensus was seen across all genders, generations, education levels, races, income levels, and regions of the country.
- Among those surveyed who hold an opinion on the federal minimum wage, two-thirds support increasing it to $15 per hour. Even when including undecided respondents on the matter, more than half (56%) support a $15 per hour minimum wage.
- The majority of Americans also believe raising the minimum wage would have a positive impact on employees in general (70%), the country (55%), their community (54%), and the economy (54%).
“Virtually any policy discussion today devolves into partisan debates and experts talking past each other,” said Chris Jackson, Senior Vice President of Public Affairs at Ipsos. “Rarely, if ever, do the opinions or preferences of regular Americans enter into these debates, but our study clearly indicates that the American people want to see the federal minimum wage increased. This level of agreement is practically unheard of in contemporary America and reflects an overwhelming public consensus that elected officials should think twice before disputing.”
The Real Impact of a $15 Starting Wage
About two in five hourly, temporary, or seasonal employees say they make less than $15 an hour (37%). Those who make less than $15 an hour are significantly less likely to say they can afford basic human needs such as shopping for groceries, paying for prescription drugs, or a doctor’s visit. An unexpected event can financially derail them, and they are significantly less likely to be satisfied with all aspects of their life compared to those who earn $15 or more or are salaried employees.
- Increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour would have a significant impact on those currently making less than that amount. About one in four people currently earning $15 an hour or more say that at some point in the past five years, they have earned less than $15 an hour (24%). When they compare what they could afford before their income increased versus now, this group is significantly more likely to say they can afford necessities, such as groceries (a 15% increase), going to the doctor (a 20% increase), and prescription drugs (a 19% increase).
- People making less than $15 are significantly more likely to say they are spending more than they make (26% compared to 17% of those making $15 or more, and 10% of salaried employees) and more likely to say they pay most of their household bills late (17% compared to 5% of those making $15 or more and 2% of salaried employees).
- Those making less than $15 an hour are twice as likely to say they are not confident they could come up with $500 if an unexpected need came up in the next month (30%) compared to those making $15 or more (16%).
The Role & Responsibility of Large Businesses in Increasing the Minimum Wage
When compared to politicians and policymakers (73%), advocacy groups (69%) and the media (51%), more Americans (80%) think large employers should play a role in raising the federal minimum wage.
Amazon’s 2018 decision to increase starting wages to at least $15 an hour—for all full-time, part-time, temporary, and seasonal employees—immediately drove a positive impact. The increase helped Amazon employees purchase cars, pay for home repairs and college tuition, and build their savings.
“Where I worked before Amazon, I made $11 an hour, it was very hard for me to save money to pay my bills,” said Kimberly Reece, an Amazon warehouse employee in Miami, Florida. “But now I'm able to pay all my bills on time and was able to move into a bigger house with my mom so I can help take care of her.”
Stories like Kimberly’s are why Amazon, as one of the nation’s largest employers, continues to encourage other large companies to raise their wages and to advocate for members of Congress to raise the minimum wage.
“We believe that $15 an hour is the minimum that anyone in the U.S. should earn for an hour of labor; that’s why we were among the first major employers to offer a $15 an hour starting wage and why we’ve been advocating for an increase to the federal minimum wage ever since,” said Jay Carney, Senior Vice President, Amazon Global Corporate Affairs. “We were thrilled when several other major companies—including Target, Best Buy, and Costco—also increased wages to at least $15 an hour for their employees. We are hopeful that more follow suit. That’s what U.S. workers deserve and, as this new study makes clear, what people across the country want.”
Amazon’s minimum wage comes on top of comprehensive benefits like healthcare, 401(k) company matching, and paid parental leave. In addition, Amazon employees can access a wide range of free training programs to learn new skills for in-demand jobs as part of Upskilling 2025–a $700 million commitment to help employees gain critical knowledge so they can move into higher-skilled, better-paying roles.
This Amazon/Ipsos poll was conducted January 28 to February 8, 2021 by Ipsos using the probability-based KnowledgePanel. This poll is based on a nationally representative probability sample of 6,354 with a boost for hourly workers and state boosts in Florida, Minnesota, Washington, Arizona, Georgia. The survey was conducted in English and Spanish.
KnowledgePanel is the largest and most well-established online probability-based panel that is representative of the adult US population. Our recruitment process employs a scientifically developed addressed-based sampling methodology using the latest Delivery Sequence File of the USPS – a database with full coverage of all delivery points in the US. Households invited to join the panel are randomly selected from all available households in the U.S. Persons in the sampled households are invited to join and participate in the panel. Those selected who do not already have internet access are provided a tablet and internet connection at no cost to the panel member. Those who join the panel and who are selected to participate in a survey are sent a unique password-protected log-in used to complete surveys online. As a result of our recruitment and sampling methodologies, samples from KnowledgePanel cover all households regardless of their phone or internet status and findings can be reported with a margin of sampling error and projected to the general population.
The data were weighted to adjust for gender by age, race/ethnicity, education, Census region, metropolitan status, household income, and party identification. The demographic benchmarks came from 2019 American Community Survey (ACS) from the US Census Bureau.
– Gender (Male, Female) by Age (18–29, 30–44, 45–59, and 60+)
– Race/Ethnicity (White Non-Hispanic, Black Non-Hispanic, Other or 2+ Races Non-Hispanic, Hispanic)
– Education (High School graduate or less, Some College, Bachelor and beyond)
– Census Region (Northeast, Midwest, South, West)
– Metropolitan status (Metro, non-Metro)
– Household Income (Under $25,000, $25,000-$49,999, $50,000-$74,999, $75,000-$99,999, $100,000-$149,999, $150,000+)
– Party ID (Democrat, Republican, Independent, Something else)
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Ipsos is the world’s third largest Insights and Analytics company, present in 90 markets and employing more than 18,000 people. Our passionately curious research professionals, analysts and scientists have built unique multi-specialist capabilities that provide true understanding and powerful insights into the actions, opinions and motivations of citizens, consumers, patients, customers or employees. We serve more than 5000 clients across the world with 75 business solutions. ISIN code FR0000073298, Reuters ISOS.PA, Bloomberg IPS:FP www.ipsos.com.