This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Utah voters are evenly divided on whether the minimum wage of $7.25 an hour should be raised to $10.
When asked, 41 percent of voters said yes, and 41 percent said no.
A Dan Jones & Associates poll commissioned by the nonprofit Utah Foundation found that about 80 percent of Utahns who identify themselves as liberal wanted to see the minimum wage increased. But fewer than 25 percent of those who call themselves conservative thought it was a good idea.
Voter responses to the minimum wage and other questions are outlined in a research brief published Wednesday by the foundation, a nonpartisan public-policy research group.
The issue of jobs and the economy ranked fifth on the top-10 list created as part of its 2016 Utah Priorities Project, an election-year assessment of the issues most important to Utah voters.
A proposal to raise Utah's minimum wage to $12 an hour was quickly jettisoned in the Legislature earlier this year for at least the third year in a row.
HB195 was killed in its first committee hearing on an 8-3 vote, with only one Republican lawmaker supporting it.
"The time has come to look at this and really take it seriously," sponsoring Rep. Lynn Hemingway, D-Millcreek, said at the time. "We're very concerned about the homelessness, but a lot of these [minimum-wage workers] are one paycheck away from [being] homeless."
Many opponents to boosting the minimum wage argue it mostly would affect teenagers relying on summer jobs to raise cash for school and personal spending. But government statistics show that a majority of poverty-level workers are ages 20 to 34 and that there are 132,000 of them in Utah's workforce.
At the rate of $7.25 an hour, they would have to work two full-time jobs to afford an average two-bedroom apartment in Utah.
In this year's presidential campaign, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton has said she supports a "livable wage." Republican nominee Donald Trump, on the other hand, said he would leave the minimum wage "about where it is."
The Utah Foundation research brief also revealed that 74 percent of Utahns earn more than a "living wage."
For a single Utah breadwinner with no spouse or children, it is equivalent to $10.87 an hour, as calculated by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. For one working adult with a spouse it is $17.96 per hour; for one adult with one child, the living wage in Utah is $22.62; for one adult with two children it is $28.12; and for one adult with three children the living wage is $36.49 per hour.
By contrast, MIT calculates a living wage in San Francisco to be $14.80 for a single adult; in Denver it is $11.61 an hour for a single adult.
The author of the Utah Foundation report, Christopher Collard, added that a minimum-wage increase would benefit many adults as well as teens. "A majority of those who would get a raise are between the ages 20 and 35," he said.
In 2008 and 2012 election-year issue surveys, jobs and the economy were the highest priority for Utahns, Collard noted.
"This year it ranks five, but a lot of people are still concerned about the cost of living and availability of jobs," he said. "There was little wage growth from 2009 to 2014, but 2015 was a better year and the data is still coming in on 2016."
The Utah Foundation has conducted the Utah Priorities Project in every year with an election for governor since 2004. After identifying the top 10 issues of concern to voters, it has published reports and issued briefs on each of the concerns through the election season.
The research brief on jobs and the economy is available on the Utah Foundation website, http://www.utahfoundation.org.