POLL: 57% of Small Business Owners Support $10.10 Minimum Wage

Ahead of U.S. Senate vote on minimum wage increase, small business owners say higher wages would boost the economy

Washington, DC – A new national poll of small business owners finds 57% support President Obama’s proposal to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour and index it to rise annually with the cost of living. The poll, commissioned by Small Business Majority, finds that a majority of small business owners believe raising the minimum wage will boost consumer spending and generate greater economic growth.

“This survey reinforces what we already knew: That small business owners care about their workers, care about their communities and care about local economies. They see firsthand how low wages at corporate chains like McDonalds or Walmart drain local communities of the spending power needed to sustain consumer demand,” said Christine Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project. “And they agree with the vast majority of voters across the country that raising the minimum wage makes basic economic sense at a time when more Americans are relying on low-wage jobs to make ends meet and consumer demand continues to lag.”

The Senate is expected to vote in the upcoming weeks on a measure to raise the federal minimum wage for the first time since 2009 to $10.10 per hour, index it to rise each year with the cost of living, and boost the tipped minimum wage to 70 percent of the full minimum wage. More than 27 million low-paid workers would benefit from this increase, generating $22 billion in new economic growth, according to estimates from the Economic Policy Institute.

“Opponents of minimum wage increases typically hold up small businesses to justify their position, but this poll makes clear that small businesses are on the same page as the American people on the benefits of higher wages for millions of low-paid workers,” said Owens. “Hopefully, this barometer of how small businesses really feel will help cut through the Beltway rhetoric and demonstrate the urgent need for Congressional action on this issue.”

The poll also found that 54 percent of small business owners believe that raising the minimum wage will help low-paid workers afford basic expenses like food and housing, reducing the need for reliance on public safety net programs. Raising the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour would lift an estimated 4.5 million Americans out of poverty over several years, according to a recent study from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. According to new research by Rachel West and Michael Reich of the University of California, Berkeley, a minimum wage of $10.10 would decrease enrollment in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program by more than 3 million people.

As the unemployment rate in many states continues to slowly decline, new job growth across the country remains disproportionately concentrated in low-wage industries such as retail and food services, making an increase in the minimum wage an urgent priority for growing numbers of working families finding themselves relying on low-wage work to make ends meet. A large share (58 percent) of new jobs created in the post-recession recovery have been low-wage occupations, according to a 2012 report by the National Employment Law Project. And lower-wage and middle-wage jobs have seen significantly bigger declines in their real wages during the recovery than higher-wage occupations, a separate report by NELP shows.

The most rigorous economic research over the past 20 years shows that raising the minimum wage boosts worker pay without causing job losses – even in regions where the economy is weak or unemployment is high. A recent study by the Center for Economic and Policy Research reviews the past two decades of research and concludes that raising the minimum wage had no adverse impact on employment.

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