Despite growing support for raising the minimum wage, Congress has yet to even vote on legislation that would raise the federal minimum and index it to the cost of living.
As a result, many states are taking matters into their own hands, including Missouri—one of 21 states that raised their minimum wage on Jan. 1. If you believe the hype surrounding the debate, 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.
Small business owners recognize the benefits to their businesses 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.
Missouri has been ahead of the game for years when it comes to providing a cost-of-living adjustment. The state’s minimum wage just went up to $7.65 per hour, 40 cents higher than the federal minimum wage. According to the Economic Policy Institute, this will benefit 136,000 low-wage workers, and it’s estimated to boost the state’s economy by $38 million. This increase is the result of a ballot initiative approved by Missouri’s voters in 2006.
But Missouri could be doing more when it comes to bolstering small business owners’ customer base. The Missouri Legislature considered a bill in 2014 to raise the minimum wage to $10 per hour and index it to inflation, but it failed to pass before the end of the legislative session.
We know small business owners’ No. 1 concern is consumer demand. State lawmakers should continue to listen to small employers and raise Missouri’s minimum wage in 2015 to help small businesses, our workers and the economy.