New poll: Nearly two-thirds of Pa. voters support $15/hr. minimum wage | Wednesday Morning Coffee

An SEIU activist rallies for a $15/hr. minimum wage, which was one of the policies that F&M researchers polled in their most recent public opinion survey. (Stephen Melkisethian/Flickr Commons)

Good Wednesday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

With the Legislature’s return to Harrisburg now only a few weeks away, advocates for a $15/hr. minimum wage are getting ready to mount a new fight to raise a wage that hasn’t seen a hike since the opening years of the Obama administration.

A new poll of 1,106 registered voters by the progressive State Innovation Exchange, conducted from June 15 to June 20 of this year, found 62 percent of respondents either ‘strongly’ or ‘somewhat’ in favor of raising the wage to $15/hr. over the next five years, mirroring the wage hike plan floated by Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf earlier this year.

Strong support among respondents is more than twice the strong opposition to a wage hike (42-18 percent), the poll found.

Pennsylvania’s wage, now $7.25 an hour, the same as the federal minimum, hasn’t been raised since 2009. Wolf and Democratic allies in the General Assembly wanted to boost the wage to $12 by July, then $15 by 2025.

“This poll tells us that the people of Pennsylvania care about economic pocketbook issues and that they believe working families across state should get a raise, and it’s no surprise,” Nikkilia Lu, the group’s Pennsylvania state director, said in an email. “Pennsylvanians know that if you work hard and play by the rules, you deserve to be paid a wage that can support your family. [Families] across the state are tired of not being able to make ends meet.”

Eighteen states began 2019 with higher minimum wages, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Four more states —  Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey and New Mexico — increased their minimum wages throughout the year.

Governor Tom Wolf speaks during a press conference about Restore Pennsylvania and broadband internet access across the Commonwealth.

Wolf dropped his wage hike proposal in the face of stiff Republican resistance during negotiations that led up to June’s passage of the 2019-20 state budget.

Wolf has never completely abandoned the prospect of some increase. And the Democratic governor’s progressive allies have continued to press the case for a wage hike throughout the summer.

The polling data released exclusively to the Capital-Star shows the expected partisan and urban/rural divide over a wage hike, as well as the expected demographic divisions:

  • Republicans oppose 59-38 percent
  • Conservatives oppose 57-40 percent
  • Rural men oppose 51-48 percent

Rural men aged  50 and younger, as well as all rural college graduates, oppose a hike 52-46 percent, the polling data shows.

Meanwhile:

  • Liberals support 89-10 percent
  • Urban voters support 78-22 percent
  • Voters of color support 82-16

Women of color, who have struggled to close an overall wage gap, support a hike 86-12 percent, the poll found. Older voters of color (those aged 50 and older) support a hike 89-11 percent, pollsters found.

The poll, which includes both landline and cell phone respondents, had a margin of error of 2.95 percent.

WikiMedia Commons

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An award-winning political journalist with more than 25 years' experience in the news business, John L. Micek is The Pennsylvania Capital-Star's Editor-in-Chief. Before joining The Capital-Star, Micek spent six years as Opinion Editor at PennLive/The Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pa., where he helped shape and lead a multiple-award-winning Opinion section for one of Pennsylvania's most-visited news websites. Prior to that, he spent 13 years covering Pennsylvania government and politics for The Morning Call of Allentown, Pa. His career has also included stints covering Congress, Chicago City Hall and more municipal meetings than he could ever count, Micek contributes regular analysis and commentary to a host of broadcast outlets, including CTV-News in Canada and talkRadio in London, U.K., as well as "Face the State" on CBS-21 in Harrisburg, Pa.; "Pennsylvania Newsmakers" on WGAL-8 in Lancaster, Pa., and the Pennsylvania Cable Network. His weekly column on American politics is syndicated nationwide to more than 800 newspapers by Cagle Syndicate.

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