Press Release

Weekly Pulse: Americans Wildly Overestimate the Number of Workers Earning Minimum Wage

How can an issue so frequently discussed be so badly misunderstood?

Washington, DC (December 5, 2018) – Ninety-eight percent (98) of Americans overestimate the number of workers making the federal minimum wage, and the largest block think the number is 30 times larger than it really is, according to the Job Creators Network/ Weekly Pulse, released today.

“The disconnect between the real data and what people know is bigger than anything I’ve ever seen,” said Job Creators Foundation President Elaine Parker. “Nearly the entire country got it wrong, and a large plurality was not even in the ballpark.”

With Democrats getting ready to control the House next year, raising the minimum wage is sure to be a top agenda item. The Pulse this week focused on how much Americans really know about the issue.

According to the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), for example, less than one percent of hourly-paid workers earn the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. The Pulse found, however, that 99 percent of Americans said the figure was higher. Eight-nine (89) percent believes that more than 10 percent of workers are bringing home the minimum.

“The number of people who are actually earning the federal minimum wage is massively inflated in the public mind,” said pollster Scott Rasmussen. “Americans who believe that millions of their neighbors are making $7.25 per hour are likelier to support a mandatory increase. That’s a huge advantage for the Democrats as they prepare to take control.”

There are roughly 64 million Americans age 25 or older who are paid by the hour, according to BLS. Among them, only 221,000, or 0.3 percent, earns the federal minimum wage. The Pulse found that 99 percent of Americans think that figure is higher, with almost three quarters saying it’s in the double digits.

“Three out of four Americans believe that millions of their adult neighbors are struggling to make a living on $7.25 per hour,” said Parker. “It’s a complete myth, and that should be worrisome to small business owners who could be facing an uphill fight in the next Congress.”

According to BLS, only 3.7 percent of teenagers make $7.25 per hour. A plurality of respondents – 37 percent – say at least 30 percent of teenagers are paid the federal minimum.

“Advocates for raising the wage have done a very good job of sentimentalizing and exaggerating this issue,” said Parker. “The facts tell a starkly different story.”

To view the entire survey, click here.