President Obama in his State of the Union address said he plans to sign an executive order increasing the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour for workers on new government contracts and asked Congress to approve the same increase for all workers – and the National Retail Federation is not happy.

NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay issued a response ahead of the president’s address.

“If you want to create minimum opportunities then raise the minimum wage,” said Shay.  “We welcome the president’s focus on the economy and jobs, but a minimum wage hike runs counter to that goal. Raising the minimum wage would place a new burden on employers at a time when national policy should be focused on removing barriers to job creation, not creating new regulations or mandates. It is simple math – if the cost of hiring goes up, hiring goes down.”

According to Shay, fewer than 5% of hourly workers are paid the minimum wage. The NRF believes that it’s really a starting wage allowing teenagers or others with little job experience to enter the workforce.

“A mandated hike in labor costs would negatively impact businesses that employ people in entry-level jobs and ultimately hurt the people it is intended to help. This isn’t economic theory – when the minimum wage went up in 2009, half a million part-time workers lost their jobs. That’s a risk our economy can’t afford to take,” said Shay.