I got an email today from some group telling me that the majority of small business owners support annual increases to the minimum wage. I found that odd, so I clicked through to the study. I will save you the time looking for it, the study had no discussion of how it identified a representative group of small business owners, or even how it validated the respondents were business owners in the first place. All it says is that it was an "internet survey".
It turns out the second question of the poll answers the first. The people in the poll overwhelmingly supported raising the minimum wage because the businesses polled overwhelmingly did not hire minimum wage workers.
In fact, the most lost fact in the minimum wage debate is the percentage of the work force that actually earns the minimum wage. According to the Department of Labor, in 2011 only about 3% of all employed wage and salary workers were making minimum wage or less. However, about half of these folks are people who mainly work for tips (which are not included in the base wage number). When you exclude the folks whose tips presumably take them over the minimum wage, just 1.5% of American workers make minimum wage.
Minimum wage work is a niche, generally confined to special situations and to low-skilled young people entering the work force.
Sure, a minimum wage hike would help many of those 1.5% (at least those who did not lose their jobs when the higher wage rates priced out their work). But what about the group five times larger than this, the unemployed? Are they really better off when the bar they have to clear to find their first work keeps getting raised? If no one will currently hire 30% of teens at $7.25 an hour, how many will get hired at $10 an hour?
Here is the question the group should have asked: For those of you who currently pay some workers minimum wage, would you expect to employ more, the less, or about the same after an increase in the minimum wage?