President Barack Obama's proposal to raise the minimum wage by 24 percent would make the federal minimum wage $1.20 more than Arizona's minimum.

Arizona's wage is $7.80; the federal rate currently is $7.25.

Raising the federal minimum wage to $9 would help businesses, said Seth Harris, the acting secretary of the U.S. Department of Labor.

While some businesses in the past have argued it would be a hardship for them to pay workers more, Harris said that opinion isn't borne out in statistics.

"What independent economic studies have shown us is that, if you increase minimum wage in a moderate way, that you don't see job loss as a consequence of the increase in the minimum wage," he said.

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“We think that instead of causing problems for businesses what this will do is help them by putting money in the pockets of their consumers and helping small businesses particularly who will, customers will have more money in their pockets. They’ll have more money to spend," Harris said.

The proposed increase would be in line with the minimum wage increase during the Clinton administration in the 1990s and would be a smaller increase than during the second Bush administration, Harris said.

Arizona is one of 19 states, plusthe District of Columbia, with higher minimum wages than the federal government.

Washington state is the highest at $9.19 an hour.

Arizona lawmakers have been wary of some federal initiatives, in recent years passing resolutions to oppose federal regulations dealing with land use, health care and environmental quality. But minimum wage is not a state's rights issue, Harris said.

"The way Congress resolved the issue is to say that there will be a flat national minimum wage that serves as a floor for the rest of the country, but that individual states, if they think it's the appropriate thing to do, can raise the minimum wage higher," he said.

This year is the 75th anniversary of the Fair Labor Standards Act, which sets minimum wage and deals with other worker-employer issues.

If a state and the federal minimum wage differ, the higher of the two figures applies, Harris said.

"Different economic conditions, different circumstances in states, different mixes of industries may inspire states to have a higher min wage and that may be the right thing for them to do. That's the debate that's going on around the country right now," Harris said.