WASHINGTON, Feb. 21 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama told Democratic governors during a White House meeting Friday he will push Congress to raise the federal minimum wage.
"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," Obama told the state leaders. "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."
In his State of the Union address, Obama called for an increase in the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour.
Noting that national polls show support for a higher minimum wage, the president said, "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."
And, Obama said, many of the governors attending the meeting were "pushing to raise their state's minimum wages to benefit more working families and help to grow their economies."
Acknowledging that most working Americans make more than minimum wage now, Obama said, "People, I think, instinctually understand that part of what this country should be about is if you're working hard and taking responsibility that you can get ahead and that you can look after your family."
He said he would press Congress to pass a minimum wage bill and would be "seeking Republicans who are game to work with us and prepared to work with us on this issue."