The American Dream is dying and saving it may require some help from lawmakers, according to a significant share of Americans.
About 64 percent of Americans say the widening gulf between the rich and poor is killing the American Dream, according to a Bloomberg News poll published Wednesday. Almost exactly the same share of Americans -- 63 percent -- say they strongly favor raising the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour, according to a separate Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll.
Senate Democrats proposed raising the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour from $7.25 earlier this year, and now have President Obama's backing. Earlier this month, Obama labeled income inequality the “defining challenge of our time” and advocated change that would help working-poor and middle-class Americans.
Raising the minimum wage to $10.10 could make a dent in doing so. A minimum wage of that size would have pushed about 58 percent of America’s working poor out of poverty in 2011, according to a June study by the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, a restaurant workers advocacy group.
Some say that $10.10 isn’t high enough in 2013. Fast food workers and advocates last week demanded a minimum wage of $15 per hour -- a floor that just 28 percent of Americans support, according to the WSJ/NBC poll.
Even $15 per hour -- nearly double the current minimum wage -- isn’t enough to make ends meet in some places. Take New York, where it takes a wage of $22.26 an hour to cover basic expenses without public assistance, according to a recent report from Alliance for a Just Society.
Those who oppose a minimum wage increase argue that any increase will only reduce the total number of jobs employers are able to offer.