Respect Poverty

Most Americans agree the federal minimum wage is too low: poll

Seventy-seven percent of Americans think the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour is too low.
Image of $7.25 in cash.

Story at a glance

  • A new YouGov poll found many Americans believe the federal minimum wage is higher than it actually is.

  • Respondents were also more likely to believe it had been raised within the past 13 years, though it has not been adjusted since 2009.

  • Full-time workers making the federal minimum wage can expect to bring home around $15,000 each year.

More than two-thirds of Americans think the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour is too low, according to new poll results from YouGov

Seventy percent of Americans feel the federal minimum wage level is “not sustainable to live on for any period of time,” and only two percent feel it’s enough for someone to maintain a comfortable lifestyle. More than half of those polled feel raising the minimum wage would help the economy. 

A full-time worker making $7.25 per hour can expect to take home around $15,000 annually, just above the federal poverty benchmark of $13,590.

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The country’s minimum wage was last raised 13 years ago—from $6.55—and some estimate it has lost more than a quarter of its purchasing power in that time. Although several states have raised their minimum wage since 2009, more than 15 still pay their workers $7.25 per hour. 

Results of the YouGov poll are based on a sample of 1,000 U.S. citizens who completed an online survey in August 2022.  

Those who hold minimum wage jobs or who have held them in the past are more likely to say it is unsustainable than those who have not. Just 13 percent of Americans thought the federal minimum wage was about right, and three percent thought it was too high.

It is permissible to pay some workers, like those below the age of 20 or seasonal workers, below the federal minimum wage. However, less than half of respondents said employers should be exempt from paying minimum wage to certain groups.  

With the exception of prison inmates, most Americans felt employers should be required to pay at least a minimum wage to farm and agricultural workers, seasonal workers, workers with disabilities, creative professionals, taxi drivers, full-time students, non-profit workers, tipped workers, live-in domestic workers, and refugees. 

The majority of respondents also thought the federal minimum wage was higher than it is, with half thinking it was over $9.88 per hour. Most also believed it had been raised more recently than 13 years ago.

Over half of those who oppose a federal minimum wage still felt the $7.25 sum is too low, while most respondents (64 percent) felt their own state’s minimum wage is too low.

Washington D.C. has the highest minimum wage in the country, at $16.10 per hour. 

When asked what the federal minimum wage should be, Americans offered the median amount of $14.88 per hour. They also agreed the sum should be adjusted based on inflation and vary based on cost of living; however, opinions varied slightly between Democrats and Republicans. 

Any raising of the federal minimum wage requires congressional action.