The 2016 Louisiana Survey: Public Split over Public Assistance Programs for the Poor, but Broadly Favors Raising Minimum Wage


BATON ROUGE – Results from the 2016 Louisiana Survey show shows that a majority of state residents share the view that the economic system unfairly favors the wealthy. Yet, the survey also shows the public is deeply divided over government assistance for the poor. The Louisiana Survey is an annual project of the Reilly Center for Media and Public Affairs at LSU’s Manship School for Mass Communication to identify the opinions of Louisiana residents and share those opinions with state law makers.


Louisiana has long struggled with more poverty and economic inequality than most other states. According to recent estimates, 15 percent of Americans live in poverty but 23 percent of Louisiana’s population live in poverty – the highest rate in the nation. Louisiana also ranks third among all states in income inequality. In the current legislative session, state lawmakers are debating a variety of policies that could affect these economic challenges – such as raising the minimum wage or revising public assistance programs for the poor.


Most Louisiana residents (58 percent) think the economic system in the United States unfairly favors the wealthy. Only 38 percent think the economic system is generally fair to most Americans. But the public is much more divided over the effectiveness of government policies aimed at redistributing from the wealthy to the poor. A majority of Democrats (67 percent) say that raising taxes on wealthy people and corporations to expand programs for the poor would do more to reduce poverty than lowering taxes on wealthy people and corporations to encourage investment and economic growth. The majority of Republicans (61 percent) believe lowering taxes on wealthy people and corporations will do more to reduce poverty than raising taxes and using the revenue to fund programs for the poor.


In contrast, a large majority of Louisiana residents (76 percent) favor raising the minimum wage to $8.50 an hour. Support is highest among Democrats and Independents (88 percent and 83 percent respectively), but most Republicans (59 percent) also want to raise the minimum wage.


About the Louisiana Survey


Since 2003, the Louisiana Survey has tracked public opinion about contemporary issues and challenges facing the state as well as trends in evaluations of the state’s economic, social, and political affairs.


The 2016 Louisiana Survey was administered over the telephone from February 1st to February 26th to both landline and cell phone respondents. The project includes a representative sample of 1,001 adult Louisiana residents. The total sample has a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percentage points.


This is the fifth in a series of releases about findings from the 2016 Louisiana Survey.


A copy of the report is available at

Louisiana Survey 2016 – Report Five



Michael Henderson
Public Policy Research Lab