The CEO of Starbucks says he’s in favor of raising the minimum wage, albeit ever so carefully.
Howard Schultz, the head of the global coffee giant, told CNBC Wednesday that “the minimum wage issue is a double-edged sword,” because while boosting it would mean higher wages for workers, it may also discourage businesses from hiring more people.
“On balance, I am a supporter of the minimum wage going up,” he said. “We’ve got to be very careful what we wish for because some employers -- and there could be a lot of them -- will be scared away from hiring new people or creating incremental hours for part-time people as a result of that wage going up.”
President Barack Obama has proposed raising the minimum wage to $9 per hour from $7.25 and tying it to inflation. But many conservatives, like Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio), argue that raising the minimum wage may end up hurting workers because it would cause businesses to pull back on hiring.
At $8.78 per hour, the average Starbucks barista makes less than Obama's proposed minimum wage, according to Glassdoor.com. But Schultz called that figure “misleading” in the CNBC interview, since it didn’t take into account tips or the boost in workers’ salaries over time.
Schultz is no stranger to speaking his mind on political issues. His company used its cups in December to encourage lawmakers to “come together” on a fiscal cliff deal. In January, Schultz said that politicians’ lack of leadership on both the fiscal cliff and debt ceiling debates was “sapping the lifeblood” of the country.
But he's not the first corporate chief to speak out on the minimum wage issue. Fred Deluca, the CEO of Subway, told CNBC in February that a minimum wage hike would push his franchisees to raise their prices. Still, some are backing Obama’s proposal. Costco CEO Craig Jelinek said in a statement earlier this month that lawmakers should raise the minimum wage to $10 an hour.