Something significant happened on Election Day that had nothing to do with the presidential race: Four states quietly voted to raise their minimum wage.
In what is fast becoming a national trend, a majority of citizens in Colorado, Maine, Arizona and Washington voted in favor of a gradual minimum wage increase until 2020; after that, the wage will be modified in accordance with the cost of living.
And it seems good things come in fours. In 2014, a quartet of states (Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska and South Dakota) also voted to increase their minimum wage.
While it isn’t unusual that voters in eight states recently approved these increases, it may surprise you that small business owners are also in favor of a higher minimum wage.
For example, one Colorado entrepreneur said he has seen first hand that higher wages positively impact his local economy.
“I believe raising Colorado’s minimum wage will increase spending power for low-wage workers, benefitting our economy overall,” said Chia Basinger, owner of Sweet Action Ice Cream in Denver. “At Sweet Action Ice Cream, we saw firsthand that paying higher wages led to our employees spending more money at local businesses, funneling money back into our economy. Raising Colorado’s minimum wage will give a boost to small businesses like mine and local economies.”
Another Colorado business owner said paying her workers more money makes them better employees, which is also good for her bottom line.
“As a small business owner with lower-wage employees, I support raising Colorado’s minimum wage because this will strengthen our workforce and our economy,” said Cynthia Camble, owner of C Enterprises in Colorado Springs. “I choose to pay higher than the current minimum wage because my employees are my greatest asset. I don’t want them to worry about how they’re getting by while at work—that’s a distraction that can cause mistakes, and mistakes cost money. Having employees who are focused on their jobs creates a more productive environment, which actually increases profits. And by raising the minimum wage across the board, this will level the playing field for small businesses like mine that are already paying higher than the minimum, and will provide an economic boost to our area.”
And it’s not just small business owners in Colorado; entrepreneurs nationwide are in favor of a higher minimum wage.
Small Business Majority’s scientific polling found that 60 percent of small business owners nationwide favor a $12 federal minimum wage by 2020, with cost-of-living increases after that. And, for some context, half of these business owners said they currently paid their lowest-wage employees less than or equal to $12 per hour.
Even within the restaurant and retail industries, which rely heavily on hourly labor, 56 percent of small businesses in those combined sectors supported a $12 minimum.
The majority of small business owners surveyed by Small Business Majority know that a $12 minimum wage is good for business and local economies. After all, employees who make more money have more money available to spend on things like food, housing and gas. For many employers, they see higher wages is an opportunity to stimulate economic growth.
It’s clear that raising the minimum wage in states like Colorado will strengthen the workforce and help boost business owners’ bottom lines. That’s why the increase has such broad support.
States passing higher minimum wages is quickly becoming a trend – and small business owners hope it’s not just a passing fad.