By Margot Dorfman, CEO, U.S. Women's Chamber of Commerce
Albany Times Union, June 9, 2012
While some portray debate over the minimum wage as a fight between business and workers, raising the minimum wage is in reality good for both. The business owners I talk with every day believe that, far from hurting their businesses, raising the minimum wage in fact helps small businesses and the broader economy.
The number one problem for our member businesses is that the recovery is slow because sales are still weak. Too many of their customers have been out of work or are working for lower pay or are fearful about their economic future, and as a result have cut back on their spending. Raising the minimum wage puts dollars in the pockets of the workers who are by necessity most likely to spend them immediately in the local economy.
Minimum wage workers are not taking fancy trips overseas or making investments on Wall Street. They are spending their paychecks at the grocery store, the pharmacy, the auto-repair shop and other local businesses.
Too many people forget that workers are also consumers. Consumer spending drives 70 percent of our economy, and we must repower wage-backed consumer spending if we are going to repower our economy, create jobs and reverse the decline in our middle class.
The U.S. Women's Chamber has over 500,000 members across the nation, serving more than 5,000 women-owned businesses in New York. Most of them are small businesses, with a concentration in service, retail and restaurant industries. Raising the minimum wage reinforces their business strategies, rather than undermining them.
That's why the U.S. Women's Chamber of Commerce supports the proposal to raise New York's outdated minimum wage to $8.50 an hour, and then indexing it for inflation so that it doesn't erode again.
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