The Washington Post reported on leaked documents obtained by the Center for Media and Democracy that disprove right-wing media claims that businesses are opposed to raising the minimum wage.
On April 4, The Washington Post reported on a leaked poll conducted for the Council of State Chambers of Commerce, which shows that the vast majority of business executives who were questioned said they support raising the minimum wage. The poll, conducted by Republican pollster Frank Luntz, found that “80 percent of respondents said they supported raising their state's minimum wage, while only eight percent opposed it.”
An advocate quoted in the Post's piece noted that other polls have found similar results to the findings uncovered by the Center for Media and Democracy. The advocacy organization Small Business Majority found that 60 percent of small-business owners supported raising the minimum wage to at least $12 per hour, confirming similar findings from a July 2014 report produced by the American Sustainable Business Council and Business for a Fair Minimum Wage, which found that a majority of businesses support raising the minimum wage.
Right-wing media have repeatedly pushed the myth that businesses are opposed to raising the minimum wage while spreading debunked claims that raising the minimum wage leads to job losses. In one instance, Fox Business host Stuart Varney claimed that a minimum wage increase in Seattle had cost the area 1,000 jobs in food services in the month after the increase went into effect, when in reality 1,800 jobs had been created since the start of the year, regardless of the wage change.
But economists have also repeatedly debunked the claim that raising the minimum wage would kill jobs. Researchers at Cornell University found that raising the regular and tipped minimum wages for workers in the restaurant and hospitality industries has “not had large or reliable effects” on the number of people working in the industry and concluded that business groups opposed to wage increases should just embrace “reasonable increases.” Recent strong job data out of Washington state, where the cities of Seattle and SeaTac are in the process of phasing in the highest municipal minimum wages in the country, undermined right-wing media claims that raising the minimum wage kills jobs.
The Post reported that Luntz said the polling data shows that it's “undeniable that they [business executives] support the increase.” He told state chamber executives that if they're “fighting a minimum wage increase,” they could suggest other “poverty-reduction methods like the Earned Income Tax Credit” in order to “defuse” the support (emphasis added):
Whenever minimum wage increases are proposed on the state or federal level, business groups tend to fight them tooth and nail. But actual opposition may not be as united as the groups' rhetoric might make it appear, according to internal research conducted by a leading consultant for state chambers of commerce.
The survey of 1,000 business executives across the country was conducted by LuntzGlobal, the firm run by Republican pollster Frank Luntz, and obtained by a liberal watchdog group called the Center for Media and Democracy. ... [[is this an in-line ellipsis?]]Among the most interesting findings: 80 percent of respondents said they supported raising their state's minimum wage, while only eight percent opposed it.
“That's where it's undeniable that they support the increase,” Luntz told state chamber executives in a webinar describing the results, noting that it squares with other polling they've done. “And this is universal. If you're fighting against a minimum wage increase, you're fighting an uphill battle, because most Americans, even most Republicans, are okay with raising the minimum wage.”
Luntz then provided some tips on how to defuse that support, such as suggesting other poverty-reduction methods like the Earned Income Tax Credit. “Where you might find some comfort if you are opposing it in your state is, 'how big of a priority is it against other priorities?'” he said. “Most folks think there are bigger priorities. Creating more jobs rather than raising the minimum wage is a priority that most everyone agrees with. So when you put it up against other issues, you can find other alternatives and other things to focus on. But in isolation, and you ask about the minimum wage, it's definitely a winner.”
*This post has been updated to reflect the 2014 report was jointly produced.