Minimum Wage Boost: Surprising Ally

Photograph by Mario Tama/Getty Images

People yell during a protest for better wages for fast food workers in Harlem on April 4, 2013 in New York City.

Supporters of a minimum wage increase may have a surprising ally — small business owners.

More than two-thirds of them support increasing the federal minimum wage, according to a poll released yesterday by Small Business Majority, a non-profit advocacy group based in Sausalito, California. In fact, 85 percent of business owners say they already pay all of their workers more than the current minimum of $7.25 an hour, the poll found.

“The biggest concern for small business owners is that there be sufficient money in the economy for people to buy their goods and services,” said John Arensmeyer, chief executive officer of the Small Business Majority. “The more money the middle class has to spend, the better the economy does.”

Nineteen states and the District of Columbia already require employers to pay more than the $7.25 an hour mandated by federal law, according to the U.S. Labor Department.

President Barack Obama in February asked Congress for legislation to boost the minimum wage. Last month, Rep. George Miller of California and Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa, both Democrats, followed up with legislation to raise the wage floor to $10.10 an hour. The bill faces long odds in Congress, with opposition mostly from Republicans including House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio.

Arensmeyer, himself a one-time Silicon Valley entrepreneur, says there’s no such partisan divide among business owners. Among those polled, 46 percent identified themselves as Republican or independent-leaning Republican.

“There doesn’t appear to be this fantastically partisan set of views,” he said. “Among small business owners, increasing the minimum wage doesn’t show up on their list of top concerns.”

Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research conducted the poll in early March, surveying 500 business owners who employed 50 or fewer workers. The survey has a margin of error of  plus or minus 4.4 percent.

 

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