Most current college students overwhelmingly support increasing the national minimum wage to $15 an hour, saying earning more money would not only better their quality of life but would allow them to dedicate more money to essential needs and savings, but most were not aware of the process or background to reach that threshold, according to a new survey from College Finance.
The organization surveyed current college students, recent graduates, and non-college students. The poll included 695 respondents, 353 of whom were current students. The respondents ranged in age 18 to 77 with an average age of approximately 33.
When the poll subjects were asked about a $15 minimum wage for everyone:
- 39% of students said they were strongly in favor.
- 27% simply supported the idea.
- 13% said they were somewhat in favor.
- 5% of students were neutral on the idea of a $15 minimum wage.
- 8% somewhat opposed a minimum wage hike.
- 7% opposed or strongly opposed the idea.
Non-students were less likely to strongly support a $15 minimum wage, by 32%, and more likely to oppose it, at 10%, or strongly oppose it, at 7%.
Meanwhile, 55% of the students polled were familiar with the movement for a $15 minimum wage.
Further, among the students:
- 29% were familiar with recent congressional actions.
- 23% were aware of the Congressional Budget Office's analysis on a minimum wage increase, and of those 10% were likely to oppose the raise and 7% were likely to strongly oppose it.
Earlier this year, President Joe Biden increased the minimum wage for federal contractors to $15 hour, up from $10.95. He also proposed raising the minimum wage to $15 for everyone as part of the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package, but that provision was removed during the reconciliation process.
Meanwhile, nearly half of college students, at 44% said they currently earn $15 or more an hour:
- 8% said they earn $7.25 or less.
- Median hourly wages were $15 an hour.
- Most students said they would work the same number of hours at $15 an hour.
- 28% said they would work less.
- 60% said they would be more likely to work for $15 an hour.
- 16% of students acknowledged struggling financially.
- Current students also said, if the minimum wage would go up to $15 an hour, they would dedicate 35% of the extra money to savings. At under $15 an hour, students said they dedicate 22% toward saving and investments.
Students and non-students did tend to agree the biggest downside to a $15 minimum wage would be inflation, with the non-students being more likely to point out a negative impact of minimum wage uptick, including:
- More difficult growth for small businesses, by 8 percentage points.
- Reduction in working hours, 7 points.
- Increased start-up costs for new businesses 4 points.
- Increased reliance on automation 2 points.
- 12% of non-students said there would be no upside to a minimum wage increase, compared to 7% of students.
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