Small business owners support increase in federal minimum wage, advocacy group's survey finds

NEW YORK, N.Y. – Small business owners support raising the federal minimum wage because they believe it will help the economy and, in turn, enable small companies to hire more workers.

That’s the finding of a survey released Wednesday by the Small Business Majority, a group that advocates on behalf of small businesses. Two-thirds of the 500 owners in the survey supported an increase from the current minimum hourly wage of $7.25, coupled with an annual adjustment for inflation. Eighty-five per cent said they pay their employees more than the minimum.

The survey’s findings were at odds with the stand against a higher minimum wage taken by small business advocacy groups including the National Federation of Independent Business and the National Small Business Association. Retailers, fast-food restaurants and other small businesses that pay the minimum wage say an increase would cut into their profits. Some say that would prevent them from hiring or expanding.

Nearly two-thirds of the owners in the Small Business Majority survey said a higher minimum wage would benefit small businesses by increasing consumer spending and, in turn, allowing small companies to retain or hire more employees.

The minimum wage has become an issue since President Barack Obama proposed during his State of the Union address in February that the federal minimum be raised to $9 from $7.25 an hour. Democrats in Congress introduced a bill to raise the minimum to $10.10 an hour in March, but it was rejected by the House.

Support for a higher minimum wage cut across political party lines in the survey. Forty-six per cent of the small business owners identified themselves as Republican, while 35 per cent said they were Democrat and 11 per cent said they were independent.

The survey was taken March 4-10, nearly a month after Obama proposed a higher minimum.