President Obama told a group of Democratic governors that pursuing minimum wage hikes in their states “happens to be good politics” during a meeting Friday at the White House.
“Increasingly, businesses recognize that raising wages for their employees is a smart business decision because they end up having lower turnover rates, higher productivity, higher morale. Folks stay longer and are more focused on the job rather than having to worry about whether or not they can pay their bills at the end of the month,” Obama said.
The president went on to note that public opinion polls heavily favored raising the minimum wage. According to a Quinnipiac poll released earlier this year, more than seven in 10 voters support increasing the hourly rate.
“This is not just good policy, it also happens to be good politics,” the president told the group of 14 Democratic governors.
President Obama has made his proposal to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour a central part of his domestic policy agenda, and Democrats believe the issue could help them ahead of the 2014 midterm elections.
But their messaging was complicated earlier this week when the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released a report saying the move would cost half a million jobs in 2016.
Republicans seized on that figure to argue that the move would increase unemployment and hurt the economy.
The White House disputed the figure, arguing that many economists believe raising the minimum wage does not effect employment. They also said the CBO report said raising the wage would increase income for 16.5 million workers and bring nearly 1 million out of poverty.
“That’s a big deal, and that could give a boost to our economy as a whole,” Obama said on Friday.