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Raising the Minimum Wage

Will a higher minimum wage hurt entrepreneurs? Many say no.

This story appears in the October 2006 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Increasing the minimum wage will hurt small business, or so the mantra goes. But will it? A recent Wells Fargo/Gallup survey of entrepreneurs reveals 46 percent support a minimum wage increase. Additionally, 86 percent feel a higher federal minimum wage wouldn't affect their businesses. "The minimum wage is no longer much of a hurdle for most small business owners," says Scott Anderson, a Minneapolis senior economist with Wells Fargo. "Most already hire at wages above the minimum wage."

The federal minimum wage has been $5.15 an hour for nearly a decade, and it now represents a mere 30 percent of the average U.S. hourly wage. "The real value of the federal minimum wage is the lowest it's been in 48 years, with the exception of 1989," says Stephen Mangum, a labor market expert and professor of management and HR at The Ohio State University in Columbus. An increase "is not likely to have as much of an effect on unemployment as in the past."

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