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State of the Union garners sparse audience; SMBs resist minimum wage hike

An article today, January 30 on TVNewser noted that the State of the Union address on Tuesday attracted only 33.3 million viewers, the lowest it's been since 2000. In 2013, 33.5 million tuned in to the State of the Union. The decline could be attributed to disillusionment with President Barack Obama's agenda, as the same day he signed an executive order increasing the minimum wage for federal contractors from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour to build momentum for his push to increase minimum wage across the board. Small business owners were not amused, according to a Manta/CNNMoney joint survey.

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks to supporters, local politicans and steelworkers at the USX Irvin Works January 29, 2014 in West Mifflin, Pennsylvania. Repeating some of the same policy proposals from his State of the Union speech the night before.
Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images

Small business owners are almost evenly divided on the issue of an increase in minimum wage, according to the study. Nearly half, or 49 percent, of the 1,278 small business owners surveyed do not support an increase in the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour, and 7 percent are unsure. Most of the small business owners surveyed do, however, pay their own employees more than the minimum wage; 20 percent pay their employees between $7.26 and $10.09 per hour, and 55 percent pay their employees more than $10.10 per hour.

But it's that 27 percent (20 percent of small business owners paying less than $10.10 per hour and 7 percent paying at the minimum wage) that may be driving this disapproval, as well as removing the option for small businesses to pay less-skilled employees less money. And raising the minimum wage would have consequences for small business owners and their employees: 26 percent would have to cut back on employees or hours, 32 percent would have to raise prices, and 18 percent would have to cut back on other company resources. Meanwhile, 77 percent believe that an increase in the federal minimum wage would not increase the demand for products or services offered by small businesses.

The final verdict, according to the survey, is that $10.10 is too much to pay for over one-third of respondents; 11 percent believe that $9.01 to $10.09 is a living wage for people in their areas, while 22 percent put the number between $7.26 and $9.00 per hour and 5 percent peg it at less than federal minimum wage. The cost of living varies greatly in different parts of the United States.

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