By far most Idahoans want the state’s minimum wage increased from $7.25 an hour to $10 an hour, a new Idaho Politics Weekly survey shows.

The new Dan Jones & Associates survey of 601 adults finds that 70 percent of Idahoans believe the minimum wage should go up by 38 percent.

Twenty-nine percent said the wage should not be increased, and 1 percent didn’t know.

Jones also finds in a new poll that two-thirds of Gem State residents don’t want the Social Security retirement age to go from the current 66 years old to 70 years old.

And Jones finds that 30 percent – by far the largest group – of citizens say education is the most important issue facing Idaho today.

The new survey was taken May 20-28. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.98 percent.

Across the nation, politicians are talking about increasing the minimum wage, with the general argument being that a single person, much less a family, can’t live on the minimum wage anymore.

Those who oppose the hike – usually small business owners – say they can’t afford such an increase.

And they would have to reduce the working hours of their low-wage earners, or lay people off.

However, Jones finds support for increasing the minimum wage in Idaho across the demographic board, to varying degrees.

For example:

  • Among all Idahoans: 70 percent say increase the wage from $7.25 to $10 an hour; 29 percent oppose such an increase; 1 percent don’t know.
  • Among Republicans: 56 percent say increase the minimum wage; 43 percent say don’t; and 3 percent don’t know.
  • Democrats want the wage increased, 90-3 percent, with 1 percent undecided.
  • While political independents favor increasing the minimum wage, 74 percent-to-26-percent, with 1 percent don’t know.

Only those who described themselves as “very conservative” politically are opposed to increasing the minimum wage.

Jones finds that the “very conservative” oppose the increase, 53-45 percent, with 2 percent undecided.

For some years, federal officials have said that unless changed, the Social Security program for senior citizens will go bankrupt in about 20 or 30 years – depending on whose statistics you believe.

There are several ways to make the huge Social Security program solvent – with one idea being to increase the age when seniors can get the basic monthly federal income checks.

But Idahoans aren’t ready to buy that extension yet.

Jones finds that 65 percent of Idahoans oppose increasing the eligibility age for SS from the current 66 years old to 70 years old.

Thirty-one percent favor such an increase in the SS age. And 4 percent don’t know.

One may think that younger Idahoans may favor such a move since it will fall on them to cover the Social Security payments for retirees down the road.

But that is not the case, found Jones.

Of those who are 18-29 years old now, only 30 percent favor increasing the SS retirement age.

Sixty-one percent of the youngsters oppose the age increase while 9 percent don’t know.

And what about those about to retire?

Jones finds that those 60-69 years old oppose increasing the SS age, 69-28 percent; with only 3 percent not having an opinion.

Finally, Jones asked an open-ended question: “In your opinion, what is the number one issue facing the state of Idaho?”

As you might imagine, there were dozens of different answers.

In compiling the responses into logical groups, Jones finds:

  • 30 percent listed education as the No. 1 issue that should be dealt with by state and local leaders.

The percentages drop way off for all other responses.

  • 8 percent mentioned employment.
  • 6 percent said infrastructure was the No. 1 issue.
  • 5 percent said minimum wage/living wage.
  • 5 percent said the economy.

And the percentages went down from there as different responses were named.

The Idaho Legislature increased state spending on public education by 7.5 percent in the 2015 session that just ended – a healthy financial step forward.

But clearly from the new responses to Jones’ questions, education is still on the minds of Idaho residents.

Idaho Politics Weekly will report on other findings in the new poll in the weeks ahead.