Despite growing support for raising the minimum wage, Congress has yet to even vote on legislation that would raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 and index it to the cost of living. As a result, many states are taking matters into their own hands. In fact, a whopping 34 states considered increases to their state's minimum wage during 2014 legislative sessions. What's more, 11 states and D.C.--Connecticut, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota and West Virginia to name a few--have all enacted minimum wage increases this year. If you believe the hype surrounding raising the wage, this should put small businesses in these states out of business, right? Wrong.
Research shows a majority of small business owners support raising the minimum wage. Small Business Majority's scientific opinion poll found nearly six in 10 small business owners support increasing the minimum wage and adjusting it annually to the cost of living. And more than half believe increasing the minimum wage will boost consumer demand, helping small businesses grow and hire. And small business support for raising the wage has been steadily growing. More recent polls show results ranging from 61 percent to two-thirds of small business owners support increasing the minimum wage, and a poll of all employer sizes found growing support within the business community for raising the minimum wage.
Small business owners recognize the benefits to their business and local economies when lower-wage workers have the money they need to spend on essential goods and services at small businesses. That's why many support their state's efforts to raise the minimum wage and adjust it yearly to keep pace with inflation.
Here's what small business owners are saying firsthand about raising the minimum wage.
"Many of the customers we serve are minimum wage or low-income employees," said Mitchell Josim, co-owner of Windy City Eyes in Chicago. "Raising the minimum wage would put more money in their pockets to spend on products at our store and at other local businesses in the community."
"I pay all of my employees well above the minimum wage, including entry-level workers," said Rolf Poeting, owner of Glassautomatic, Inc. in Mount Pleasant, Penn. "A workforce that is able to live off their wage is a happy workforce, and it in turn helps us retain the top talent around."
"Getting minimum wage workers a decent raise would allow these folks to stimulate the economy," said Martine Laguerre, owner of Fuzzyannie Cleaning Services LLC in the Bronx. "Minimum wage workers do much of their shopping at small businesses. If they had more money to spend, it would help boost local communities and be great for small businesses."
Entrepreneurs know their businesses succeed when their communities thrive. That's why we just released a series of online guides to help small employers understand how efforts to raise their state's minimum wage would impact their businesses, and the state's economy on the whole. Business owners in Illinois, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and New York will be able to use the websites to send comments directly to lawmakers to show them how real entrepreneurs feel about this issue.
A vast majority of small businesses already pay their workers more than the minimum wage, and many small employers feel it's the right thing to do. We also know small business owners' No. 1 concern is consumer demand. State lawmakers should continue to listen to small employers and raise their minimum wages to help small businesses, our workers and the economy.
To learn more about what real small business owners are saying about raising the wage, check out their testimonials and find links to our state websites through www.smallbizsayraisethewage.com.