President Obama's State of the Union proposal to raise the federal minimum wage to $9 an hour has the retail industry on edge and fast food stocks struggling.
During Tuesday's address to Congress, the president pointed out that a full-time worker on minimum wage makes just $14,500 a year. That places him or her below the poverty line for an adult supporting even one child.
"Tonight, let's declare that, in the wealthiest nation on Earth, no one who works full time should have to live in poverty -- and raise the federal minimum wage to $9 an hour," Obama said, adding that automatic increases to the minimum wage should be tied to the cost of living going forward.
The retail industry is not happy about that idea.
"A minimum wage hike right now would be one more factor driving up costs for employers and creating headwinds for job creation, especially among the small businesses that create most of our nation's new jobs," said David French, senior vice president for government affairs for the National Retail Federation.
The fast food industry would likewise be stung if the minimum wage rose from $7.25, where it has stood since 2009. And indeed, fast food stocks lagged a bit in today's trading. McDonald's (MCD), for instance, ended the day down 1.2 percent. Meanwhile, Yum Brands (YUM) dipped, recovered just after Taco Bell announced the new Cool Ranch Doritos Loco Taco, , then lost some ground again to close down 0.5 percent. Jack in the Box (JACK) also saw its share price decline about 1 percent Wednesday.
It's never clear how much the movements of stocks can be attributed specific causes such as the possibility of a minimum wage hike, and Business Insider points to a few other possible culprits for the fast food dip, including rising gas prices and weak casual dining same-store sales.
All the hand-wringing by retail executives and fast food shareholders might be moot, though, as opposition by congressional republicans is likely to be stiff. In a press conference following the State of the Union, Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) expressed his opposition to raising the minimum wage.
"When you raise the price of employment, guess what happens?" said Boehner. "You get less of it."
Matt Brownell is the consumer and retail reporter for DailyFinance. You can reach him at Matt.Brownell@teamaol.com, and follow him on Twitter at @Brownellorama.
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