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'It's too low and should be raised:' Amazon study backs minimum wage hike

·Former Correspondent
·5 min read
In this article:
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An overwhelming majority of Americans think the current federal minimum wage is too low, according to a study commissioned by Amazon (AMZN) in partnership with market research firm Ipsos, and more than half support a federal minimum wage hike to $15 per hour.

The survey, published on Tuesday and conducted between Jan. 28 and Feb. 8, polled 6,354 Americans to gather their thoughts on the current federal minimum wage, and the potential impact of boosting that wage on peoples’ lives.

According to the survey, a vast majority of Americans are actually unaware of the current federal minimum wage, which is currently $7.25 per hour. Approximately 48% of respondents guessed that the minimum wage is actually more generous than what it actually is.

Upon learning about the current minimum wage, 80% of respondents said the amount is too low. In addition, approximately 56% of respondents said they support the push to increase the federal minimum wage to $15, the survey showed.

“Amazon commissioned this research to highlight the obstacles that those earning less than $15 an hour must overcome on a daily basis," the report's authors wrote. "Amazon agrees with the majority of Americans that the federal minimum wage in the U.S. is too low and should be raised,” it added.

The study comes as Corporate America in general — and Amazon in particular — finds itself on the defensive over labor practices that involve pay and organizing. Currently, the retail giant is in the crosshairs of pro-labor politicians.

Critics claim that raising the minimum wage would be costly for smaller retailers that can't afford to pay higher wages, and would likely cost jobs. And to be certain, 56% of the respondents to Amazon's study believed a $15 hourly rate could negatively impact employers in general.

Still, the study provides unlikely support for a position backed by many of Amazon's most vocal opponents, which have called for a minimum wage hike. Just weeks ago, an effort to include one in the $1.9 trillion stimulus bill failed in the Senate.

In recent years, Amazon has advocated for increasing the federal minimum wage to $15, highlighting in the research that the current minimum wage sits at $7.25 an hour, a level unchanged since July 2009, the longest stretch without an increase.

Support from Gen Z, Millennials

Protesters calling for higher wages for fast-food workers stand outside a McDonald's restaurant in Oakland, California December 5, 2013. The group, which numbered about 200, shut down the store for more than half an hour as part of a daylong nationwide strike demanding a $15 dollar minimum wage.  REUTERS/Noah Berger  (UNITED STATES - Tags: BUSINESS CIVIL UNREST FOOD)
Protesters calling for higher wages for fast-food workers stand outside a McDonald's restaurant in Oakland, California December 5, 2013. The group, which numbered about 200, shut down the store for more than half an hour as part of a daylong nationwide strike demanding a $15 dollar minimum wage. REUTERS/Noah Berger (UNITED STATES - Tags: BUSINESS CIVIL UNREST FOOD)

Some 80% of Americans surveyed by Amazon think large employers — companies with 500 or more employees — should play a role in raising the federal minimum wage. Indeed, a number of major U.S. corporations like Walmart (WMT) and Costco (COST) have moved to address those concerns by compensating their front-line workers at higher rates.

When it comes to specific actions, 44% of respondents believe businesses should set their own minimum wage to $15 an hour, and 37% think companies should advocate for the government to raise the minimum to $15 and 28% believe other companies should push peers to set a $15 minimum wage.

In October 2018, Amazon raised its own minimum wage to $15 for all U.S. employees, though it also phased out its RSU grant program at the same time. As one of the nation’s largest employers, Amazon said it “will continue using its position to encourage other large companies to raise their wages and to lobby members of Congress and state legislatures to raise the minimum wage.”

Amazon's survey found that younger generations are more likely to support a federal minimum wage hike, with 70% of Gen Z and 71% of Millennials in favor of a $15 minimum, compared to 59% of Gen X and 56% of Baby Boomers.

Most Black and Latinos overwhelmingly support a $15 wage at 93% and 84%, respectively, compared to 52% of white Americans, the survey found. The bulk of Democratic respondents, 92%, support the $15 minimum wage proposal compared to 24% of Republicans. While 76% of Republicans oppose an increase to $15, 60% believe the current $7.25 minimum wage is too low.

In the report, Amazon noted that one in five working Americans earns less than $15 an hour. Those lower-wage earners are likely to be female, younger, less educated, Black or Latino, and living in rural areas, the study said.

When it comes to impact, 70% of respondents believe increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 would positively impact employees in general. According to the study, 55% said a $15 minimum wage would have “no impact” on them personally, while 27% said it would positively impact them individually.

More than half of Americans think a $15 minimum would also benefit the country (55%), community (54%), and the economy (54%).

With 70% of the U.S. GDP coming from consumption, Amazon also argues that a $15 wage will contribute to a more prosperous economy.

“Increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour will help supercharge that recovery and help those who need it most. Boosting the income of those at the bottom end of the pay scale means that, instead of just trying to survive, they have the opportunity to participate in the economic recovery,” Amazon wrote.

Julia La Roche is a correspondent for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter.