Less than half the public support a sharp boost in the minimum wage when told that it could cost the economy half a million jobs, according to the latest IBD/TIPP Poll out Thursday.
That comes amid reports that some Senate Democrats are backing away from President Obama's push to boost the minimum wage by 39% over the next two years, to $10.10 an hour, after the Congressional Budget Office found that it would kill 500,000 jobs.
Unlike other surveys, the IBD/TIPP Poll asked two questions about the minimum wage. The first simply asked, "Do you support or oppose raising the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour?"
Phrased that way, 62% say they support the wage hike — similar to results of other surveys.
But when told about the CBO findings on job losses, support for the wage hike dropped sharply, falling to 49%, with an equal share saying they oppose it.
Support declined across party lines. Among self-identified independents, it went from 59% to 46%, with more than half opposing the minimum wage hike if it costs jobs. GOP support dropped from 34% to 20%.
Even among Democrats, support fell 10 points — to 77% — when the CBO findings were included in the question.
These survey results suggest that support for the wage hike isn't as strong as backers claim, and that many who say they back the increase are unaware of its potential to cause significant job losses.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., this week postponed a planned minimum-wage vote until late March or early April. Reid blamed scheduling conflicts and what he described as obstruction by the GOP.
But other reports point to rising concerns about job losses among Democratic senators facing difficult re-election bids. Only 32 have signed on as official co-sponsors to the Senate bill, and three declined to support it, according to The Hill.
Some moderate Democrats, meanwhile, are pushing for a more modest wage boost.
A wage floor hike to $9 over the next two years would have a far smaller effect, killing at most 200,000 jobs, the CBO found.
Backers of the Obama proposal say that boosting the minimum wage to $10.10 would get it back only to where it was in 1968, after adjusting for inflation.
What they fail to point out is that 1968 was the only year since a federal minimum wage was enacted 75 years ago that it topped $10, when measured in constant 2012 dollars.
In fact, the wage floor envisioned by Obama has been a rarity — it's been above $9 just nine times. And the average since 1938 is just $7.09.
In other words, the 75-year average inflation-adjusted minimum wage is almost exactly where the current one stands.
President George W. Bush in 2007 signed the last hike into law, which pushed the wage floor from $5.15 to $7.25. So, inflation adjusted, the current minimum wage is still 5% higher than it was two decades ago.
The IBD/TIPP Poll surveyed 855 people from Feb. 22-26.
The poll results have a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.
Other findings from the poll:
The IBD/TIPP Presidential Leadership Index fell 5.1% to 42.4, Obama's lowest reading in office. It's the 12th straight month below the neutral 50.
More than half — 56% — think the country is in a recession; 54% say it's not improving.
More than half — 54% — say they oppose ObamaCare. Just 46% say they favor its repeal, but 51% of independents do.