Politics, Social Issues, Spring 2017 Articles

State students not on Board with a $15/hr minimum wage

In our latest PackPoll, about half of State students did not support increasing the minimum wage to $15 from $7.25, and fewer supported it. Participants were asked if they favored raising the minimum wage, opposed it, or were unsure.

Student ambivalence, or outright opposition to this increase, stands in contrast to national polling data. Opposition is curious since students presumably would benefit from higher minimum wages, although perhaps they are more worried that higher minimum wages might make jobs more scarce.

Nationally, young adults appear to support increasing the minimum wage. In a poll conducted by The Washington Post/ABC News, 54% of Americans aged from 18-39 said they would be more likely to vote for a Congressional candidate that supported raising the minimum wage. Only 19% said doing so would make them less likely to vote for that candidate.

Adding to the confusion, PackPoll found that state students were especially receptive of Bernie Sanders, and Sanders made raising the minimum wage a major tenet of his campaign. Yet, in a previous PackPoll conducted last year, the majority of State students said they were opposed to raising the minimum wage. This trend among State students has perpetuated in contrast to national trends.

So, why are State students different about raising the minimum wage?  Without having asked other questions designed to explain their opinions, we can only speculate.

First, most undergraduates at State are not older than 22, and the Washington Post survey presents the age breakdown those 18 all the way to 39.  Perhaps most 18-22 year olds are more tepid about raising it, and those slightly older, between 23-39, are more supportive. Also, undergraduates are by definition in college, and maybe younger adults not in college are more supportive than those in college.

Last, the survey questions cited in this article aren’t asking about the same thing.  Ours asked about supporting a significant increase without mentioning that most people advocate for a gradual, staggered increase to reach $15. Other surveys asked about smaller increases, or were vague about what that increase might look like.  Future PackPolls will likely try to better explain these results.

A Toplines report for all survey questions, and results, is available here: Big Poll Spring 2017 Toplines

NOTE ON METHODOLOGY: This semesters’ “Big Poll” took place February 14-18, 2017. The survey was administered over the internet to a random sample of 4,500 NCSU undergraduates and 876 completed the survey, generating a 19.5% response rate. Assuming a 50-50 division in opinion calculated at a 95 percent confidence level, the margin of sampling error for this survey is +/-3.25% when questions were answered by the full sample; sampling error increases for estimates when three or more choices were offered, when fewer respondents were asked a version of a question, or when analyzing the opinions of sub-groups, such as when looking just at how females responded to a question.

In addition to sampling error, other forms of non-sampling error occur in surveys, such as confusion about question wording or the order of questions, and non-response bias (low response rates), but these types of error are not precisely quantifiable. We do not apply post-stratification sample weights for the slight demographic imbalance in gender because weighting the data would not have noticeable effects on the results.

One Comment

  1. Maybe the difference between these responses and national support could be related to the question. The specific question asked isn’t in this article, but did you ask “do you support gradually raising the minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 over a few years?” Or just ask about the increase? Because adding that it would be gradually raised over time, which is what the actual policy change would be, generally increases support.

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