With everyone from President Obama to local fast food workers agitating for an increase to the minimum wage, the issue of whether today's historically low floor of $7.25 (adjusted for inflation, the minimum wage in 1968 was $10.95) should be raised has taken center stage. So where do those actually doing the hiring and the paying stand on the question?

CareerBuilder recently polled more than 5,000 HR managers and other employers to find out. The results show that while a change in federal, state, or local laws would have these folks reaching into their pockets, a majority still support a minimum wage hike. A healthy 62 percent of respondents overall agreed that the minimum wage should go up, while 58 percent of senior leaders polled supported the idea. The percentages were well above 50 percent even in retail (68 percent) and hospitality (60 percent), which would be most immediately affected by any wage hike.

What's the right level for the minimum wage? The most popular answer was $10 an hour, which 29 percent named as the correct number. Nineteen percent said something in the range of $11 to $14 an hour would be appropriate, while just 7 percent said the minimum wage should rise to $15. Slightly more (9 percent) said there should be no mandated minimum wage at all.

Why Support a Minimum Wage Increase?

  • It can improve the standard of living: 74 percent
  • It can have a positive effect on employee retention: 58 percent
  • It can help bolster the economy: 55 percent
  • It can increase consumer spending: 53 percent
  • Employees may be more productive/deliver higher quality work: 48 percent
  • It can afford workers the opportunity to pursue more training or education: 39 percent

Getting Ready for Higher Wages

If you look at these numbers and the evolving tenor of the debate and think you've spotted which way the wind is blowing, what can you do to prepare your small business for a minimum wage increase? Stephen J. Sheinbaum, president and CEO of Merchant Cash and Capital, recently offered some tips, including giving your company a financial checkup, coming to grips with seasonal variations in your business, making sure you hire great people, and arming yourself with knowledge about financing options.

Do you support an increase in the minimum wage?