“This is not just good policy, it also happens to be good politics,” the president said at a Democratic Governors Association meeting at the White House. “Raising the minimum wage will help up to 16 million Americans - and that's a big deal and that could give a boost to our economy as a whole.”
Obama recently signed an executive order to raise the minimum wage for workers on new federal contracts to $10.10 an hour, but that action is expected to affect only a few hundred thousand workers. The White House wants Congress to approve the same hike in the federal minimum wage for all employees.
Lawmakers are expected to debate an increase in the minimum wage next week. However, Republicans are skeptical of the proposal and point to a new Congressional Budget Office report showing that a $10.10 minimum wage would eliminate roughly 500,000 jobs.
The president on Friday said his position was supported both by the American public and a growing number of U.S. companies.
“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,” he argued. “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.”