Raising Michigan’s minimum wage to $10.10 finds strong support in poll

From the Detroit Free Press

by Paul Egan

LANSING — A new poll suggests 65% of Michigan voters support a ballot proposal to hike the state’s minimum wage from $7.40 to $10.10 an hour.

Results of the poll of 600 likely voters, conducted March 9 and Monday, were released to the Free Press by Lambert, Edwards & Associates, which conducted the poll along with Denno Research.

The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points and included 20% cell phone users.

It showed 32% opposed the proposed minimum wage hike and 3% did not know which way they would vote or wouldn’t say.

The Raise Michigan ballot committee has until May 28 to collect 258,000 valid signatures in its attempt to raise the minimum wage through legislative initiative. If the group collects the required signatures, the petition would go to the Legislature. If the Legislature does not act on it within 40 days, it would go to voters in November.

The proposal would increase Michigan’s minimum wage to $10.10 an hour by 2017 and would raise wages for tipped workers, such as waiters and waitresses, from $2.65 an hour to the full minimum wage over nine years.

Similar initiatives are under way in other states, and President Barack Obama recently announced the extension of a $10.10 minimum wage to federal contract workers, through executive action.

The poll found support for the proposal among all age groups. Democrats support the proposal 85%-13%, as do independents 65%-31%, while Republicans oppose it 56%-40%, the poll found. The survey found 62% support for the proposal among white voters and 91% support among blacks.

Frank Houston, Raise Michigan treasurer, said he’s encouraged by the results.

“I think it shows the public is really overwhelmingly behind raising the minimum wage,” with “a broad amount of support across every subgroup,” Houston said.

“I think it shows we’re starting in a good place,” he said.

Justin Winslow, vice president of government affairs for the Michigan Restaurant Association, said “it’s easy enough to concede that when you ask the basic question that there has been some level of support for increasing the minimum wage.”

However, when people understand the dramatic impact such a change could have on employment in the restaurant industry, “you see those numbers coming back,” Winslow said.

For some restaurants, such a hike would not just mean higher prices or fewer employees, but closing their doors, he said.

Of those surveyed, 39% identified themselves as Democrats, 32% as Republicans, and 24% as independents.

Contact Paul Egan: 517-372-8660 or pegan@freepress.com