In a new national poll, 61 percent of small business owners with under 100 employees say they support gradually increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.
The poll contacted 555 owners of for-profit small businesses. They supported increasing the wage, which has stayed at $7.25 an hour for five years, to $10.10 over two and a half years, and then letting it automatically rise as inflation rises. Just 35 percent opposed this proposal.
The largest share of poll respondents identified as Republicans, and those who did were evenly split in support or opposition to the wage increase.
The owners also felt that there would be positive impacts from raising the wage: 58 percent said it would increase consumer purchasing power in the economy, and 56 percent said it would help the economy generally. Many also felt it would help them specifically, with 53 percent agreeing that businesses would benefit from lower turnover, increased productivity, and customer satisfaction.
Earlier polls have similarly found that small businesses back a higher wage. Nearly 60 percent supported a $10.10 wage, with 27 percent strongly in favor, in a different poll from March. And while the National Federation of Independent Business, which represents small business owners, vocally opposes increasing the wage, its most recent survey of its members found that they ranked “Minimum Wage/’Living’ Wage” at number 52 out of 75 issues that they are concerned about. Meanwhile, just 8.6 percent said the issue is “critical,” while more than a quarter said it isn’t a problem.
There are signs that the owners are right to expect positive economic impacts from a higher wage. In Washington, which currently has the highest state minimum wage, small businesses experienced the highest rate of job growth of any state over the last year. Economists have found that higher minimum wages can improve efficiency as employers push their employees to work harder and lower turnover, which can cost as much as 20 percent of a worker’s full-time salary. It can also make it easier to recruit employees.
Some large businesses also see a benefit, as The Gap and Ikea announced they will voluntarily increase their lowest wages. Both stores said they were making the move in anticipation of better employee performance and customer experience.