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Americans Favor Idea of Increased Overtime Eligibility

Americans Favor Idea of Increased Overtime Eligibility

Story Highlights

  • 67% agree with concept of increasing worker overtime eligibility
  • Majorities also favor requirements for paid sick leave, vacation and family leave
  • On balance, Americans are negative about increased power for unions

PRINCETON, N.J. -- Americans agree with the idea of expanding the number of workers eligible for overtime pay, a change recently announced by the U.S. Department of Labor and one favored by presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.

Expand Number of Workers Eligible for Overtime
Agree Disagree Don't know enough to have an opinion
% % %
Expand the number of workers eligible for overtime pay 67 14 18
Gallup, May 24-27, 2016

The change in overtime rules to be put in place by the Department of Labor raises the maximum annual salary at which employers are required to pay workers for overtime from $23,660 to $47,476. The expansion of overtime eligibility has been championed by both remaining Democratic candidates, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. At this point, the American public's initial reaction to the idea is quite positive.

Americans also agree with the idea of raising the minimum wage, as they generally have in the more than 70 years Gallup has tested it using different formats and different dollar amounts. The specific proposal tested in the current research is to raise the minimum wage to $20 per hour by the year 2020, agreed to by 56% of Americans. Both Sanders and Clinton have supported the idea of raising the minimum wage, with Sanders endorsing the specific proposal tested here. Donald Trump's position on the minimum wage has been characterized as shifting, although he has recently implied that the minimum wage does need to be increased.

Increase Minimum Wage
Agree Disagree Don't know enough to have an opinion
% % %
Increase the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 an hour by 2020 56 36 7
Gallup, April 21-24, 2016

These measures of the American public's reaction to proposed changes affecting workers were tested in Gallup research conducted April 21-24 and May 24-27 of this year, and are part of Gallup's ongoing assessment of the ways in which Americans react to proposals made by presidential candidates. The research measures initial reactions to shorthand versions of proposals made by presidential candidates in speeches or in debates. Most policy changes are, in reality, complex, and the public's reactions could change if proposals became a matter of continuing public debate.

Americans Supportive of Mandatory Paid Vacation, Family Leave

A majority of Americans also favor workplace proposals that would require employers to provide seven days of paid sick leave, two weeks of paid vacation and at least 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave. Both Clinton and Sanders support these types of proposals, aimed at improving life for the nation's workers. Trump has not addressed the proposals.

Sick Leave, Vacation, and Family and Medical Leave
Agree Disagree Don't know enough to have an opinion
% % %
Require employers to provide all workers at least seven days of paid sick leave 75 16 9
Require employers to provide all workers at least two weeks of paid vacation 75 19 5
Require employers to provide at least 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave 62 27 10
Gallup, April 21-24, 2016

Both Clinton and Sanders have also argued for a strengthened role for labor unions as a mechanism designed to improve the situation for workers in this country. Unlike the reactions to the other aforementioned proposals, more of the public disagrees with this idea than agrees.

Increase Power of Labor Unions
Agree Disagree Don't know enough to say
% % %
Enact laws increasing the power of labor unions 32 41 27
Gallup, May 24-27, 2016

The net negative response to the idea of increasing the power of labor unions matches Gallup's ongoing union trends. Americans are positive about unions in general -- 58% approve of them -- though that level of support is much lower than what Gallup measured in the 1930s through the 1990s. But fewer than four in 10 Americans in Gallup's latest measure say the influence of labor unions in this country should increase. The majority of Americans say that unions' influence should either decrease or stay the same.

Bottom Line

Americans' reactions to presidential candidates' proposals concerning new laws or regulations aimed at improving the situation of the country's workers are generally positive. A majority of the public agrees with the idea of increasing eligibility for overtime, raising the minimum wage and requiring companies to offer specified amounts of paid sick leave, vacation, and family and medical leave. Americans do not, however, support the idea of increasing the power of labor unions.

Historical data are available in Gallup Analytics.

Survey Methods

Results reported in this article are based on telephone interviews with random samples of 2,024 national adults, aged 18+, living in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, conducted April 21-24, 2016, and 2,044 national adults conducted May 24-27, 2016.

Each respondent interviewed April 21-24 rated a randomly selected subset of five of 18 policy proposals included in the survey. Each proposal was rated by between 533 and 590 national adults. Results for each proposal have a margin of error of ±5 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.

Each respondent interviewed May 24-27 rated a randomly selected subset of six of 20 policy proposals included in the survey. Each proposal was rated by between 588 and 634 national adults. Results for each proposal have a margin of error of ±5 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.

All reported margins of sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.

Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 60% cellphone respondents and 40% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.

Learn more about how the Gallup U.S. Daily works.


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