By John Dodge
CHICAGO (CBS) — About half of Americans favor President Obama’s proposal to increase the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.
That level of support is unchanged from earlier this year, but is down 10 points from July of last year.
A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 51 percent of American adults favor raising the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10.
A total of 39 percent oppose raising the minimum wage to that level, also unchanged from February but up from 29 percent last summer. Nine percent are undecided.
The survey of 1,000 American adults was conducted on May 6-7. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points.
The plan would gradually increase the salary over three years, reaching $10.10 by 2016.
What is equally interesting is the fact that half of Americans apparently oppose a plan that affects a remarkably small percentage of the workforce.
According to a 2012 Bureau of Labor Statistics report, about 4.7 percent, or 3.6 million, of hourly paid workers were paid at or below minimum wage.
About half of those workers paid below $7.25 an hour work in the hospitality or service industries and rely on customer tips to compensate their salary.
The proportion of hourly paid workers earning the prevailing federal minimum wage or less declined from 5.2 percent in 2011 to 4.7 percent in 2012. This remains well below the figure of 13.4 percent in 1979, when data were first collected on a regular basis, according to the report.
Another report looked at the pace of inflation and worker productivity and concluded that the minimum wage should be at $21.72 an hour.
Would increasing the minimum wage be a “job killer?”
According to a Congressional Budget Office report, the increase would reduce total employment by about 500,000 workers, or 0.3 percent by 2016.
However, workers would be earning more, and CBO estimated overall real income would rise by $2 billion. In theory, that would increase spending and add tax revenue.
The last time the federal minimum wage was increased was in 2009.
In Illinois, the current minimum wage is $8.25.