Most Americans support increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour

A new Amazon/Ipsos thought leadership study finds that Americans look to large companies to help push forward raising the minimum wage.

The author(s)
  • Christopher Moessner Senior Vice President, US, Public Affairs
  • Chris Jackson Senior Vice President, US, Public Affairs
  • Jennifer Berg Vice President in Ipsos’ U.S. Public Affairs Team
  • Jinhee Yi Account Manager, US, Public Affairs
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Washington, DC, March 16, 2021

Most Americans support increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour.

Last year, the pandemic and shutdowns disproportionately impacted those most vulnerable at the lower end of the pay scale. America has hope that 2021 will be a year of recovery. 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.

With a new administration in office, there is an opportunity to push this essential change forward. The current federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour went into effect on July 24, 20091. This July will mark the 12th year without a raise to the federal minimum wage, the longest period without any progress since its establishment in 1938. Before now, the longest period without an increase was a 10-year gap between 1997 and 2007.

While the federal minimum wage stagnated for the past 12 years, the purchasing power of those wages fell due to inflation. When the current federal minimum wage went into effect in 2009 at $7.25, the value was closer to $9 by the 2020-dollar.

Twenty-nine states and Washington, D.C. currently have minimum wages above the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour2. Washington, D.C. has the highest minimum wage at $15. California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York all have a graduated minimum wage on a glide path to reach a minimum wage of $15 in the next two years.

Ipsos interviewed over 6,000 adults aged 18+ on the Ipsos KnowledgePanel, the largest address-based online panel that is representative of the adult U.S. population. The study was conducted between January 28, 2021 and February 8, 2021.

In addition, Ipsos conducted a series of fifteen (15) in-depth, ethnographic, interviews among Americans who earn between $8-$17 an hour. People within that hourly pay range qualified to participate in the study if they received a wage increase within the past two years. This criterion was used to understand the impact wage increases have on people's lives.

Key findings:

  • Majority support - A clear majority of Americans say that the federal minimum wage is too low and two in three who have an opinion support increasing it to $15 an hour.

  • Large companies to lead - Americans look to large companies to help push forward the goal of raising the federal minimum wage and expect these companies to raise their own minimum wage.
  • Americans unaware - Eight in ten Americans do not know the actual amount of the current federal minimum wage.
  • Positive impact - Americans say increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour would have a positive impact on workers generally, their community, the country, and the economy.
  • Who earns less than $15 an hour - People currently making less than $15 an hour are more likely to be women, people of color, have less formal education, and in rural areas.
  • Struggles of earning less than $15 an hour - Those who make less than $15 an hour are significantly less likely to say they can afford basic human needs such as shopping for groceries, paying for prescription drugs, or seeing a doctor. Further, they are less likely to be able to pay their bills on time and are more likely to feel like they are falling behind.
  • Benefits of earnings increasing to $15 an hour - People who earn $15 an hour or more are significantly more confident they could come up with $500 if an emergency situation arose, are more likely to say they are spending less than they earn, and are less likely to say they pay their bills late compared to those earning less than $15 an hour.

Download the report to read more. 

As part of this important work,  Ipsos conducted a series of in-depth, ethnographic, interviews among Americans. Watch the film to hear what Americans say about living on less than $15 an hour.

 Here is your opportunity to conduct your own analysis. Click here to activate the interactive dashboard.

Click here to read Amazon’s Blog about the data. 


This Amazon/Ipsos poll was conducted January 28 to February 8, 2021 by Ipsos using the probability-based KnowledgePanel. This poll is based on a nationally representative probability sample of 6,354 with a boost for hourly workers and state boosts in Florida, Minnesota, Washington, Arizona, Georgia. The survey was conducted in English and Spanish.

KnowledgePanel is the largest and most well-established online probability-based panel that is representative of the adult US population. Our recruitment process employs a scientifically developed addressed-based sampling methodology using the latest Delivery Sequence File of the USPS – a database with full coverage of all delivery points in the US. Households invited to join the panel are randomly selected from all available households in the U.S. Persons in the sampled households are invited to join and participate in the panel. Those selected who do not already have internet access are provided a tablet and internet connection at no cost to the panel member. Those who join the panel and who are selected to participate in a survey are sent a unique password-protected log-in used to complete surveys online. As a result of our recruitment and sampling methodologies, samples from KnowledgePanel cover all households regardless of their phone or internet status and findings can be reported with a margin of sampling error and projected to the general population.

The data were weighted to adjust for gender by age, race/ethnicity, education, Census region, metropolitan status, household income, and party identification. The demographic benchmarks came from 2019 American Community Survey (ACS) from the US Census Bureau.

  • Gender (Male, Female) by Age (18–29, 30–44, 45–59, and 60+)
  • Race/Ethnicity (White Non-Hispanic, Black Non-Hispanic, Other or 2+ Races Non-Hispanic, Hispanic)
  • Education (High School graduate or less, Some College, Bachelor and beyond)
  • Census Region (Northeast, Midwest, South, West)
  • Metropolitan status (Metro, non-Metro)
  • Household Income (Under $25,000, $25,000-$49,999, $50,000-$74,999, $75,000-$99,999, $100,000-$149,999, $150,000+)
  • Party ID (Democrat, Republican, Independent, Something else)

About Amazon

Amazon is guided by four principles: customer obsession rather than competitor focus, passion for invention, commitment to operational excellence, and long-term thinking. Customer reviews, 1-Click shopping, personalized recommendations, Prime, Fulfillment by Amazon, AWS, Kindle Direct Publishing, Kindle, Fire tablets, Fire TV, Amazon Echo, and Alexa are some of the products and services pioneered by Amazon. For more information, visit and follow @AmazonNews.

About Ipsos

Ipsos is the world’s third largest Insights and Analytics company, present in 90 markets and employing more than 18,000 people. Our passionately curious research professionals, analysts and scientists have built unique multi-specialist capabilities that provide true understanding and powerful insights into the actions, opinions and motivations of citizens, consumers, patients, customers or employees. We serve more than 5000 clients across the world with 75 business solutions. ISIN code FR0000073298, Reuters ISOS.PA, Bloomberg IPS:FP

The author(s)
  • Christopher Moessner Senior Vice President, US, Public Affairs
  • Chris Jackson Senior Vice President, US, Public Affairs
  • Jennifer Berg Vice President in Ipsos’ U.S. Public Affairs Team
  • Jinhee Yi Account Manager, US, Public Affairs