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Survey: Business Owners Split On Minimum Wage Debate

A new survey has revealed that small business owners in the United States are divided about whether or not there should be a federal minimum wage increase. The study from BizBuySell, an online business-for-sale marketplace, found that 47% of owners favor raising the base wage, while 4-in-10 oppose an increase. Thirteen percent had no opinion.

The survey results come at a time when minimum wage is becoming an increasingly hot topic around the country. This month, state legislators in both Illinois and North Carolina introduced bills that would up their states’ minimum wages to $15 per hour by 2022. Illinois’s current minimum wage is $8.25, while North Carolina follows the federal minimum wage of $7.25. While the proposed legislation in both states faces stiff opposition and an uncertain future, it follows fast after 19 other states raised the bar on minimum wage at the beginning of 2017. At $11 per hour, Massachusetts and Washington are the states with the highest minimum wages in the nation, while Washington D.C. workers earn even more -- $11.50.

According to BizBuySell, 53% of business owners who responded to the survey have faced a local community or state raise in the minimum wage within the past five years. Meanwhile, 30% said they have faced no such hike, while 17% were unsure.

For some business owners and business groups in Illinois and North Carolina, the prospect of a minimum wage hike is disconcerting. Last week, for example, Illinois Chamber of Commerce CEO Todd Maisch told Law360 that minimum wage hikes will burden business owners and hurt hiring and retention. “We still think it's simply a job-killing proposal,” Maisch said. “What is most frustrating is that the proponents refuse to acknowledge that the people they're hurting the most is the people who need that first job opportunity that the $15 minimum wage is going to kill."

Conversely, advocates of increasing the minimum wage say upping the base pay rate will help hardworking Americans better afford necessities, while benefitting local economies by giving people more cash to spend. “Our economy does best when everyone can earn enough money to afford the basics, put food on the tables, gas in the car, their kids in day care and a roof over their head,” Allan Freyer, director of workers’ rights for the North Carolina Justice Center, told The Wilson Times. “When they can afford the basics, they are able to afford to spend money at local businesses, and when they spend more money, businesses see higher sales, bigger profits and ultimately better job creation.”

In the promotional products industry, sentiment about state-imposed minimum wage increases has been mixed. Speaking to Counselor in January, some industry executives said rising minimum wages will potentially create false inflation, cause their companies to be less competitive, and lead to layoffs. Others in the industry, however, believe the wage advances will have a positive impact, contributing to stronger consumer spending and even better on-the-job performance. “I believe in increasing the minimum wage because when employees are happier they work harder,” Josh Ebrahemi, partner at Los Angeles-based Jack Nadel International (asi/279600), told Counselor.