MN Small Business Owners Say Minimum Wage Increase Good for Business

With the Minnesota Legislature set to take up a minimum wage increase, small business owners joined a growing coalition of Labor unions, non-profit organizations, and faith groups in calling for a meaningful increase in the minimum wage. These business owners say a minimum wage increase would be a net positive.

“It’s just common sense in the restaurant business that if people have more money in their pockets, they’re more likely to go out for lunch on their break or maybe take their family out for dinner once and a while,” said Barbara Johnson, owner of Lyle’s Cafe in Winthrop. “If more people are spending more money, that’s great news for my bottom line.”

A survey released last week by Small Business Majority found that small business owners strongly support a minimum wage increase to bolster consumer spending. In fact, according to the Jobs Now Coalition, for every dollar increase in the minimum wage there is a boost in consumer spending by a low-wage workers’ household by $2,800 over the following year.

“Legislators haven’t addressed the minimum wage in eight long years and an increase is long overdue,” said Minnesota AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Steve Hunter.

Business owners also attribute higher wages to higher productivity and lower turnover.

"Happy employees are better employees; bottom line," said Matt Riehm, owner Top of the Line Lawn & Landscape in St. Paul. "The high morale fostered by a well-paid staff gives my business great referrals and more work in the future."

The business owners joined coalition members in specifically supporting the House minimum wage bill, authored by Representative Ryan Winkler (DFL-Golden Valley). The bill would raise Minnesota’s minimum wage to $9.50 over three years, tie future increases to inflation, and would protect tipped workers from being paid a sub-minimum wage tip penalty. Minnesota’s minimum wage was last increased to $6.15/hour in 2005. Today, most minimum wage workers are paid the federal rate of $7.25.

"In Minnesota, we believe that hard work should pay," said House bill author and Select Committee on Living Wage Jobs Chair Ryan Winkler (DFL-Golden Valley).  "By raising the minimum wage, we can raise the pay of 400,000 Minnesota workers, and boost the state's economy."