Friday, May 10, 2013

Small Business Owners: Let's raise minimum wage

A new poll released by Small Business Majority shows that 67% of owners are in favor of increasing the federal minimum wage. Interesting, since politicians opposed to the initiative claimed to be concerned for small businesses being able to pay for the increase.

Right now, the federal wage stands at $7.25, that's about $14,000 for a full-time employee. Anyone earning that rate is living below the poverty line, a harsh reality for scores of families across the nation. I met a woman in this predicament at last week's Economic Empowerment course. She has big goals, but without a college education she was forced to accept a low paying position. To make ends meet, she makes food at home and sells it to local merchants right out of her own car. There's so much she wants to accomplish, even a college degree, but it's impossible with the challenges she faces. She's starting her life over after escaping years of abuse and has children to care for. She never mentioned child support, but she did state she was doing without the basics for now.

That hasn't stopped her from dreaming though. She's looking for work and she yearns some aspects of her prior life, especially a former position where she rose among the ranks to become supervisor. That position is no longer available, although she would love the opportunity to return to it. She finds herself making the best with what she has, including the minimum wage job she contends with. It's barely paying her bills, let alone allowing her to buy the much needed furniture her family needs. As she related her story, her eyes gleaned. "But if only" she started every sentence. If only she could find a good job, make more money, be able to afford the basics. I walked away feeling very hopeful for that woman, as dire as her situation seemed. She has the drive and intelligence to do and be more, if only she could earn more.

It's time we heed the example set by the small business owners in favor of a wage increase and help women like her realize their dreams. We owe it to her and to all those who could do more if they could just earn more.

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