Would you pay more to support “worker-friendly” policies? Most say, “no.”

Pew Research asked Americans for their views on the importance of “worker-friendly” wage and benefit policies. The results are instructive, if not surprising. The report came out today because of the contemporary relevance of the issue; it relies on research conducted about a year ago.


Here’s how Pew interprets the results.

The relationship between businesses and their employees is back in the news, with low-wage laborers recently protesting and striking for a higher minimum wage and independent contractors in the sharing economy suing for expanded rights

Around half of Americans say the question of working conditions is indeed important to them, though fewer are actually willing to pay more to support businesses that are seen as worker-friendly, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in late 2015.

Pocketbooks and politics sometimes create dissonant responses. Pew again:

Only around a quarter (23%) say it is easy to get accurate information about employee pay and working conditions at the businesses they frequent. But even when they are able to identify businesses that provide good pay and working conditions, about two-thirds of U.S. adults (67%) say it is hard to justify the additional cost involved in supporting such companies. Only around one-quarter (28%) report that they often pay extra to support these types of businesses.

Even many Americans who say it’s important to know how workers are treated find it hard to justify the extra cost of supporting businesses that provide good pay and working conditions. Among those who say that worker pay and conditions are important to them, 41% say they regularly pay extra to support businesses that treat their employees well, but 56% indicate it is hard to justify the additional cost.

Something for policymakers to consider as they debate the effects of mandated compensation. There are consequences when consumers have choices.