A new national poll conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research taken in January and released on February 20 assesses Americans’ views on key economic issues including the minimum wage and Social Security. Protecting Social Security and reducing unemployment were top concerns with over 80% citing those programs. There is also high support for raising the minimum wage. Income inequality has also become a major concern.
The findings come as Congressman Kevin Brady, a Texas Republican, Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, told a panel last week that he supports raising the Social Security age for full benefits to age 70 and that he would support means testing in the program to further cut expenses.
The Social Security issue has exposed a rift in the Republican Party with the conservative budget hawks continually pushing for cuts while the working class supporters of Donald Trump express support for the program. Trump himself has said in the past that he wants to maintain benefits though he has also called the program a “Ponzi scheme.”
Key findings from the survey include:
- More than 80 percent of Americans say it is extremely or very important to protect the future of Social Security and reduce unemployment.
- Slightly more than half of the American public (53 percent) describe the economy as in poor shape, while 46 percent believe it is in good condition.
- Twenty-seven percent of the public say their finances deteriorated over the past year, but 38 percent of those expect things to improve in the next year. Twenty-eight percent of those same respondents are not so optimistic, expecting a further decline in their personal finances.
- Income inequality is an important concern for nearly 60 percent of the population, and nearly 56 percent of Americans believe that reducing the income gap between rich and poor is the responsibility of the government, while 42 percent say it is not.
- Half of the public say that increasing the minimum wage is important to them personally, and 71 percent of the public is in favor of it.