He said the wage increase also could mean that consumers would have more money to spend, providing a boost for businesses that have struggled through the economic downturn and slow recovery.
He also calling for raising the tipped minimum wage, which is $2.13 an hour and index it for inflation.
Obama said he is committed to closing the pay gap for women and is urging passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act this year.
"President Obama's remarks tonight show he understands that a higher minimum wage is key to getting the economy back on track for working people and the middle class," said Christine Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project (NELP).
"The president's remarks also cement the growing consensus on the left and right that one of the best ways to get the economy going again is to put money in the pockets of people who work, who will spend it at small businesses in their communities. A minimum wage increase will stimulate consumer demand and help drive economic growth for the people who most need it in America ... workers."
But David French, the National Retail Federation's senior vice president for government relations, suggested that Washington provide a broader plan for businesses to invest in the economy.
“A minimum wage hike right now would be one more factor driving up costs for employers and creating headwinds for job creation, especially among the small businesses that create most of our nation’s new jobs," French said.
"Before we debate the federal minimum wage, we need a broad, comprehensive plan from Washington that encourages businesses to plan, invest and grow this economy. So far, all we have are interim steps and uncertainty, none of which inspire confidence or create an environment that leads to economic growth, investment and job security."
A national poll conducted last year found that 73 percent of voters support increasing theminimum wage to $10 per hour and indexing it to inflation. The same poll showed 50 percent of Republicans and 74 percent of Independents favoring anincrease in the minimum wage, according to NELP.
About 10 states have already adopted policies that index wages based on inflation. An August NELP study showed that while the majority of jobs lost during the recession were in middle-wage occupations, 58 percent of those created in the post-recession recovery have been low-wage occupations.
That shift toward low-wage jobs is a 30-year trend that is only accelerating, according to a recent report by the Center for Economic and Policy Research.
All told, 19 states have already established minimum wage rates higher than the current federal rate of $7.25.
Congress last voted to raise the federal minimum wage in 2007, approving legislation that raised the minimum wage in three steps from $5.15 per hour to the current rate of $7.25 by July 2009.
If the federal minimum wage had kept pace with the rising cost of living since 1968, it would equal $10.56 today, according to NELP.
"The president’s support for a higher minimum wage is a welcomed opening to the policy conversation that’s needed about getting wages growing again, after stagnating for the last 10 years among both college and high school graduates," said Lawrence Mishel, president of the Economic Policy Institute.
"The proposed increase will benefit 21 million workers and increase wages by $22 billion by 2015. This will not only boost wages but facilitate greater job growth by increasing spending by low-wage workers."