Ben Carson backs raising minimum wage
© Greg Nash

Conservative presidential candidate Ben CarsonBenjamin (Ben) Solomon CarsonThe Federal Reserve is setting America up for economic disaster Baltimore's failing schools are a tragedy of criminal proportions The US can grow its own farm workers MORE says the $7.25 federal minimum wage should be raised.

“I think, probably, it should be higher than now,” Carson told CNBC’s John Harwood in an interview Friday.

Carson added that government assistance often provides more than the minimum wage in several states, allowing people to ignore the long-term benefits of a job.

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"I don't necessarily blame people for saying, 'Look, I can stay home and make this money, or I can go and work this little chicken job that doesn't have many benefits,’ ” he said.

"However, recognize that if you go and take that chicken job, you gain skills, relationships, the possibility of moving up the ladder. So a year or two or five down the road, you're no longer in that position. This is what people have forgotten."

His stance on the minimum wage makes Carson an outlier among the likely field of GOP opponents and comes with Democrats looking to make it a key issue in the 2016 election.

Among fellow GOP contenders Carly Fiorina, former Gov. Mike Huckabee (Ark.) and Sens. Rand Paul (Ky.), Ted Cruz (Texas) and Marco Rubio (Fla.), Carson is the only one backing a wage hike.

Two likely contenders, former Gov. Jeb Bush (Fla.) and Gov. Scott Walker (Wis.), don’t back an increase either.  

Bush said that the federal government shouldn’t raise the wage during an event in March. Walker told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in October that he doesn’t believe the minimum wage “serves a purpose.”

Sen. Rick Santorum (Pa.), who is weighing a bid, would be the only other Republican candidate open to raising the minimum wage. His advisers told The Hill in February that his stance could help him earn support from working families. 

Democrats believe the issue will be a winner for them in 2016, with senators earlier this week proposing a measure that would raise the federal minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2020.

That figure goes well beyond the $10.10 wage that Democrats failed to pass when they controlled the Senate.

President Obama initially suggested a $9 minimum wage before backing $10.10. The administration is now supporting the $12 push.