Economy

A Survey Reveals Broad Business Support for Raising the Minimum Wage

The debate over raising the minimum wage in the U.S. is frequently characterized as a fight between workers and employers. However, a recently leaked survey suggests that business executives are actually supportive of efforts to increase hourly wages.

Here's a leaked slide from the document.

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As you can see, 80 percent of the 1,000 business executives surveyed by the research firm LuntzGlobal said they support raising the minimum wage. The sweeping majority stands in contrast to the 8 percent of executives who said they oppose the wage hike and 12 percent who took a neutral stance on the issue.

The minimum wage has become a major issue in the 2016 presidential election.

Both Democratic presidential candidates former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders have voiced support for minimum wage increases. California and New York both recently announced plans to increase the state minimum wage to $15 per hour, adding political pressure on the national stage.

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Here's what the people who conducted the survey said about the numbers.

"If you’re fighting against a minimum wage increase, you’re fighting an uphill battle, because most Americans, even most Republicans, are okay with raising the minimum wage," LuntzGlobal managing director David Merritt said during a webinar on the survey. The webinar was presented to members of state chambers of commerce, business trade associations that have historically opposed minimum wage increases, despite the fact that their members appear to broadly favor raising the minimum wage. (Sixty-three percent of business executives surveyed were members of local, state, or federal chambers of commerce.)

Where the business vs. worker minimum wage "conflict" really comes from.

fight-for-15-protest

So, what's the strategy for keeping the minimum wage low? Just change the subject!

Merrit went on to describe how trade associations could get around that support by shifting conversations about the issue toward other economic issues such as job growth:

"Most folks think there are bigger priorities. Creating more jobs rather than raising the minimum wage is a priority that most everyone agrees with. So when you put it up against other issues, you can find other alternatives and other things to focus on. But in isolation, and you ask about the minimum wage, it's definitely a winner.”

Basically, since most every agrees that the minimum wage is too low, the best advice is to convince them to focus on something else.

Whether this advice reflects a willful effort to undermine business support for raising the minimum wage is uncertain, but it raises questions about where the opposition to wage increases really comes from and challenges the idea that businesses and workers are at odds with each other on the issue.

FightFor15 Los Angeles

If 80 percent of business executives believe that the minimum wage should be raised — and 75 percent of Americans feel the same way, according to a 2015 poll conducted by the Victoria Research & Consulting firm — then it's possible that trade associations, which serve as representatives of the industry at large, are misrepresenting their members' positions — intentionally or not — on the minimum wage issue.

RELATED: California Fights for a $15 Hourly Minimum Wage