'Paying a higher minimum wage will help businesses retain employees and create a more reliable workforce.'

The federal minimum wage has been $7.25 since July 2009. The new proposed minimum wage would change to $10.10 an hour.

A Gallup poll shows that 50 percent of small business owners oppose raising the minimum wage and a bit over 47 percent supported it. Three percent did not respond or were indifferent. About a quarter of respondents said they would likely shrink their workforce if the minimum wage increased.

Despite these claims, small businesses should support the minimum wage raise.

Small-business advocacy groups like the Main Street Alliance, Business for a Fair Minimum Wage and Small Business Majority are pushing those owners' messages in Washington. Some have published polls showing the strong support for the legislation, while others have gathered signatures from employers in favor of raising the minimum wage. If these small-business advocacy groups support raising the minimum wage, then that means they see the benefits of doing so.

Small businesses who support the minimum wage raise believe that creating a greater purchasing power can increase sales. Picture your customers with a little extra in their wallets. They will be more likely to pay for higher priced items or services you offer. The number of employees you will pay are way less than the number of customers you will have. Having customers with a bigger wallet might worth supporting this cause.

Paying a higher minimum wage will help businesses retain employees and create a more reliable workforce. Fifty-three percent of small businesses support the proposed new minimum wage because they would benefit from lower employee turnover and increase productivity and customer satisfaction. A lower employee turnover saves you the time and money spent on training employees. Your employees will also be less likely to ask for a raise.

If you are a small business owner and have a few employees, consider supporting the federal minimum wage raise. The benefits outweigh the potential costs to your business. You will be giving your employees a few more dollars, or even just cents, than what you already pay them, but your customers will also have more money to spend. In the long run, you will be helping your local community and economy and creating a better living wage for your employees.

Nanci Vasquez Rios is an undergraduate student at Pacific University in Forest Grove. She lives in Hillsboro.

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