Survey: Majority of Americans feel income gap widening

[Photo illustration by Kentoh/Shutterstock]

[Photo illustration by Kentoh/Shutterstock]

The majority of Americans–Democrats and Republicans–agree that the gap between the rich and everyone else has increased in the past decade and that the minimum wage should be raised, according to a new national survey by the Pew Research Center and USA TODAY.

There is a divide, however, along partisan lines as to what extent the government should do to remedy the wealth gap. Among Democrats, 90 percent say the government should do “a lot” or “some,” while only 45 percent of Republicans agree.

The study was conducted Jan. 15-19 and surveyed 1,504 adults on various aspects of the wealth gap. Of those surveyed:

  • 65 percent believe the gap between the rich and everyone else has increased in the last 10 years.
  • 60 percent agree the economic system unfairly favors the wealthy, but 6-in-10 people say those who are willing to work hard can get ahead.
  • 73 percent favor raising the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour.
  • 82 percent believe the government should do “a lot” to “some” to reduce poverty. Among those respondents, 90 percent identified as Democrats, 83 percent as independents and 64 percent as Republicans.
  • 54 percent favor raising taxes on corporations and the wealthy to increase public assistance for the poor. However, most Republicans (59 percent) believe that the government should lower taxes on corporations and the wealthy to encourage economic growth.
  • 50 percent attribute circumstances beyond one’s control to economic status. Only 35 percent think people are poor because of lack of hard work. 38 percent say hard work and determination are no guarantee for success for most people – compared to 28 percent who would say the same just a decade ago.
  • 76 percent of Republicans say most people can get ahead if they are willing to work hard and 20 percent say hard work does not guarantee success. For Democrats, it’s almost an even divide – 49 percent and 48 percent, respectively.

For the complete study, visit the Pew Research Center for People & the Press.

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