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Strong support continues for minimum wage

A solid majority of Americans support President Obama’s proposal in his most recent State of the Union to increase the minimum wage.

Some 71 percent of those surveyed said they supported raising the federal minimum wage to $9 an hour from $7.25, while 27 percent opposed it, according to a Gallup Poll released Wednesday.

The results attest to the popularity of Obama’s plan, wrote Gallup’s Lydia Saad in the poll’s release.

“Raising the federal minimum wage is typically a crowd pleaser when it comes to policy prescriptions, and Obama’s proposal…is not an exception,” she wrote. “The 71 percent vs. 27 percent balance of U.S. public opinion in favor of passing it is convincing…”

The numbers seem overwhelming, but support for increasing the minimum wage has actually been higher, reaching as high as 83 percent in 2005.

“Americans’ support for boosting the minimum wage may be a bit dampened by continued high unemployment, and could reflect public awareness of critics’ argument that raising the minimum wage causes employers to cut back on workers,” Saad wrote.

There was a large ideological split in the poll with 91 percent of Democrats supporting a wage increase, compared to 50 percent of Republicans.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and other Republicans have said they oppose raising the minimum wage because they believe the hike would cut into job growth.

“Listen, when people are asking the question ‘Where are the jobs?’ why would we want to make it harder for small employers to hire people?” Boehner told reporters in February. “I’ve got 11 brothers and sisters on every rung of the economic ladder. I know about this issue as much as anybody in this town.”

Boehner also voted against the 2006 bill to raise the minimum wage to its current level of $7.25 from $5.15.

Some Democrats, meanwhile, say Obama’s proposal doesn’t go far enough. 

Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, and Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., proposed a bill Tuesday to set the minimum wage at $10.10 over three years and then index future increases to inflation. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called on Republican House leadership Thursday to act on the legislation.

Obama’s proposal is also slightly lower than his pledge as President-elect in 2008 to raise the minimum wage to $9.50 an hour by 2011, according to his team’s transition website.

The poll took place among 1,028 American adults between March 2 and March 3, 2013, and has a margin of error of plus or minus four percentage points.