USC Dornsife/LA Times Poll: Most CA Voters Back Minimum Wage Hike

June 09, 2016

USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times PollVoters in the latest USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll also were concerned about potential drawbacks to raising minimum wage, such as a loss of employers.

Contact: Emily Gersema at (213) 361-6730 or gersema@usc.edu or Erika Maldonado at (213) 740-8964 or erikamal@usc.edu; or Dan Schnur at schnur@usc.edu or (213) 740-8964

June 9, 2016 — California voters strongly support an increase in both the state and the federal minimum wage, even while they recognize potentially adverse effects of those changes, according to the latest USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll.

More than two-thirds (68 percent) of respondents said they support raising the federal minimum wage after they were told the current wage is $7.25 per hour. Only 29 percent opposed an increase. Similarly, 64 percent supported a recent law signed by Gov. Jerry Brown that will gradually increase California’s own minimum wage from $10 to $15 by 2022.

Large numbers of Californians anticipate some drawbacks to the wage increase. Eighty-seven percent believed that prices will rise but 11 percent disagree. Sixty-six percent of California voters believe that a minimum wage increase will drive businesses to lay off workers, although 31 percent disagree. In addition, 65 percent believe the wage hike will prompt an exodus of California businesses that 31 percent believe won’t leave.

Poll respondents also believe there are benefits to a minimum wage increase. Sixty-nine percent said that the change would give lower-income workers more money to spend, and 58 percent said that businesses will benefit from less employee turnover and higher customer satisfaction.

Public opinion was more divided on the question of whether a wage increase would lift lower-paid workers out of poverty: 52 percent agreed with that statement but 45 percent disagreed.

“It’s not clear from our survey whether Californians think that the potential downsides of a minimum wage increase are less important than the benefits, or if they were simply unaware of those costs,” said Dan Schnur, director of USC’s Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics. “But there’s no question that this state’s voters are very strongly in support of that increase.”

When asked specifically about the federal minimum wage, Californians said they favored an increase but are divided on the appropriate amount. After they were told that the current federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, most respondents — 77 percent — felt that the minimum wage should be raised to $10.10 per hour. A smaller majority — 59 percent — supported raising it to $15 per hour.

The latest USC/Dornsife Los Angeles Times Poll, the largest statewide survey of registered voters, was conducted May 19-31. It includes a significant oversample of Latino voters, as well as one of the most robust cell phone samples in the state. The full sample of 1,500 voters has a margin of error of +/- 2.8 percentage points.

Additional poll results and methodology are available here.

About the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences/Los Angeles Times Poll: The USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Poll is a series of statewide public opinion polls in California, designed to survey voter attitudes on a wide range of political, policy, social and cultural issues.
Conducted at regular intervals throughout the year, the USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Poll is the largest statewide poll of registered voters and has been widely cited, helping to inform the public and to encourage discourse on key political and policy issues.

About the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics: The Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics is dedicated to bridging the academic study of politics with practical experience in the field. The Unruh Institute channels its efforts by offering courses in applied politics, a variety of speaker series, and an extensive political internship program. Its goals are to engage public officials with the USC community and to facilitate the discussion of relevant issues across campus.

About USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences: USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences is the heart of the university. The largest, oldest and most diverse of USC’s 19 schools, USC Dornsife is composed of more than 30 academic departments and dozens of research centers and institutes. USC Dornsife is home to approximately 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students and more than 750 faculty members with expertise across the humanities, social sciences and sciences.

About the Los Angeles Times: The Los Angeles Times is the largest metropolitan daily newspaper in the country, with a daily readership of 2 million and 3 million on Sunday, and a combined print and interactive local weekly audience of 4.5 million. The fast-growing latimes.com draws over 10 million unique visitors monthly.

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