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Two-Thirds of Small Business Owners Support a Higher Minimum Wage

Brenden Timpe

The advocacy group Small Business Majority is out this morning with a new survey that bolsters efforts to raise the minimum wage.

President Obama ignited the debate earlier this year when he proposed raising the hourly minimum wage from $7.25 to $9, arguing that it would help working families. Congressional Democrats countered with a higher bid, suggesting $10.10. Both proposals would tie the minimum wage to inflation so it keeps up with the cost of living.

Conservative groups have pushed back, protesting that a higher minimum wage would hurt businesses at a sensitive time and force them to lay off low-wage workers. But Small Business Majority’s survey sheds doubt on this argument. Here are some of the highlights:

  • When asked whether they support increasing the federal minimum wage and tying it to inflation, a full two-thirds of small business owners were in favor.
  • When presented competing arguments on the minimum wage issue – will it benefit the working poor, or will it lead to higher prices and more unemployment? – 65 percent sided with those who believe hiking wages would help the poorest Americans and reduce the pressure on government assistance.
  • Two-thirds agreed that a minimum wage increase would help the economy by putting more money in the hands of those most likely to spend it.

A higher minimum wage, then, attracts overwhelming support from a group of people who are truly “small business” owners by any definition. All of the individuals polled by Small Business Majority ran their own company, with 69 percent bringing in annual revenue under $500,000. Only a handful reported family income over $250,000.

Perhaps the results shouldn’t be surprising, since they largely echo the views of regular, non-business-owning Americans. But it’s tough to square them with the protests from those who insist that a minimum wage hike would hurt small businesses and lead to higher unemployment for low-wage workers.

In fact, many businesses are finding that higher wages lead to a more productive workforce and less turnover. And studies have failed to turn up convincing evidence that a higher minimum wage increases unemployment at all.

We do know, however, that a pay increase would put money in the pockets of millions of workers – the overwhelming majority of whom are adults and belong to a family with income below the median. For these workers, it’s time for a wage hike. That’s something that everyone can agree on – Democrats, Republicans, independents and, yes, even small business owners.