Minimum wage activism is having a moment. To most people, raising base pay for workers to $15 an hour sounds pretty good. Pew’s latest poll says 73% of Americans agree. And now New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is pushing for statewide $15 minimum wage for food workers, and presidential hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders introduced a bill that would institute the minimum nationwide. But there are big variations between what $15 buys on average in the U.S. and what it buys in West Virginia (a lot), or New York (not much). A nationwide $15 minimum would be disproportionately burdensome on rural businesses. New York politicians may like it, but what’s good for the Big Apple may be bad for the country.
A version of this article appears in the September 1, 2015 issue of Fortune magazine with the headline “You say potato, I say $15 minimum wage.”