Group seeks to raise Missouri minimum wage

Thursday, September 29, 2011 | 8:41 p.m. CDT; updated 10:23 p.m. CDT, Thursday, September 29, 2011

JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri voters could be asked to raise the state's minimum wage to $8.25 an hour.

A group that backed a successful wage increase in the 2006 elections is now pushing to get the minimum wage issue back on the ballot for Missouri's 2012 elections. The proposed initiative already has been submitted to the secretary of state's office, which must approve a ballot title before supporters can begin gathering signatures.

Missouri's minimum wage currently matches the federal requirement of $7.25 an hour. The initiative would ask voters to raise that to $8.25 an hour effective Jan. 1, 2013, with an adjustment for inflation in following years. It also would increase the penalties for businesses that don't pay the minimum wage. The Associated Press obtained a copy of the proposed initiative under an open-records request to the secretary of state's office.

At $7.25 an hour, the current minimum wage no longer is providing enough money to meet the needs of some families, said Lara Granich, director of Missouri Jobs With Justice, which is part of a coalition backing the new initiative.

"People are really suffering this recession. More and more families are depending on the minimum wage or on one income," she said. "We believe this is in the best interest of Missouri's economy and Missouri's families to bring the minimum wage up to $8.25."

About 290,000 Missouri workers currently make less than $8.25 an hour, and an additional 178,000 employees currently earning between $8.25 and $9.25 an hour also could see their paychecks grow if wage scales are adjusted upward to account for a higher minimum wage, according to Missouri Jobs With Justice.

But the proposed initiative already has drawn opposition from the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which also opposed the 2006 wage increase. The business association has said that a higher minimum wage — especially when indexed to inflation — discourages businesses from hiring additional employees and can result in layoffs.

"The people who are doing this just don't get it — they're putting more stress on an already fragile economy," said Dan Mehan, president and CEO of the chamber. "We will vigorously oppose that."

Missouri was following the national minimum wage of $5.15 an hour when voters by an overwhelmingly three-fourths majority decided in November 2006 to raise the state's minimum wage to $6.50 an hour, effective in 2007. That ballot measure included an annual inflationary adjustment, which would have raised the state's wage to $7 an hour this year. But because the federal minimum wage is now higher, Missouri follows the federal requirement.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 18 states and the District of Columbia now have minimum wages above the federal standard of $7.25 an hour, led by Washington state where the minimum wage is $8.67 an hour. Among Missouri's neighboring states, only Illinois — at $8.25 an hour — is higher than the federal minimum.

"Basically, what they're proposing to do is catch Missouri up to Illinois, where it's been at a higher level for some time," said Paul Sonn, co-director of the legal section at the National Employment Law Project, which supports efforts to raise the minimum wage.

Contrary to the assertions of some businesses associations, Sonn said that raising the minimum wage can help the bottom line of some businesses.

"Raising the minimum wage helps stimulate consumer demand and ultimately encourages hiring," Sonn said.

The proposed ballot initiative would expand Missouri's small business exemption to the minimum wage to cover retail and service-sector employers with annual sales of less than $575,000, adjusted annually for inflation. The current threshold is set at sales of $500,000, with no inflationary adjustment.

The initiative also would require tipped employees — such as food servers — to be paid at least 60 percent of the minimum wage instead of the current 50 percent threshold. The measure would penalize businesses caught violating the minimum wage by requiring them to pay the employee an amount that is double the underpaid wage. Employees would have three years — instead of the current two — to claim those back wages.


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John Schultz September 29, 2011 | 9:43 p.m.

Well let's just bump the minimum wage to $20/hour if it will "stimulate consumer demand and ultimately encourage hiring." That has to be almost three times as good as the original proposal.

(Report Comment)
Corey Parks September 30, 2011 | 6:43 a.m.

Just imagine how much further that 7.25 would go if they were not taking out all these state/federal taxes and SS and Medicaid!

This group should stop hiding behind min wage and start putting their focus where real differences would matter.

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking September 30, 2011 | 7:08 a.m.

Actually a person that makes minimum wage would be pretty much exempt from federal taxes, and would probably owe only a few hundred in state tax.

I am sure there is some sort of optimum considering higher wages vs higher unemployment because of them that might maximize purchasing power among low wage employees. However, it's a small number of employees relative to total Missouri employment (about 10%, and I suspect most of them are not supporting families, or even live on their own).

290,000 employees x an extra $2000/year (asswuming they're all full time, which again I suspect is not true at all) is $580 million dollars. That sounds like a lot until you figure Missouri's share of GDP (figured by population) is about $280 billion. It's an impact of about 0.2% of our GDP.

I'd imagine the effect of this on employment would be fairly minor. But the effect of this on the economy is also minor.


(Report Comment)
Corey Parks September 30, 2011 | 9:45 p.m.

"Actually a person that makes minimum wage would be pretty much exempt from federal taxes, and would probably owe only a few hundred in state tax"

That can not be DK. I heard people on TV say that the poor pay more in taxes then the evil rich. Are you telling me that the WH is lying?

(Report Comment)
Gregg Bush October 1, 2011 | 9:24 a.m.

Lucky poor people.
They hoard all the jobs. Some of
Them even work two.

(Report Comment)
Gregg Bush October 1, 2011 | 9:28 a.m.

Forty percent of
People in poverty work
Full time. No big deal.

(Report Comment)
Gregg Bush October 1, 2011 | 9:45 a.m.

Everything I have
I earned, said the straight, white male.
Blind to privilege.

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle October 1, 2011 | 12:50 p.m.

Missouri population: ~6 Million (2010 data)
Private nonfarm employment: ~2.5 Million (2009 data)
Total employment: ~3.5 Million (2000 data)
Those paid less than $8.25/hr: 290,000 (article)
Percentage of nonfarm employment: ~12%
Percentage of total employment: ~8.3%
(oddly, I couldn't find the number actually making $7.25 or less; can anybody help w/ that?)

My perception is that minimum wage is already dead. It's a relatively small percentage of employment, and as DK pointed out above, the change would amount to economic statistical noise.

OTOH, I'll point out that there *is* some correlation between minimum wage and median wages. Both have been stagnant for awhile now. So has our economy. Causes and effects are open to debate.

(Report Comment)
Gregg Bush October 1, 2011 | 6:15 p.m.

Statistical noise
Is great for theory but not
For those it would help.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz October 2, 2011 | 12:07 a.m.

Can we make bosses
Pay us fifty bucks an hour?
That's a stimulus!

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith October 2, 2011 | 7:54 a.m.

Let's move on
To something new.
Time to end
Your sad haiku.

(Apologies to Burma-Shave)

(Report Comment)
Gregg Bush October 2, 2011 | 8:31 a.m.

Sadder than any
Haiku, is child hunger in
Land of such wealth.

(Report Comment)
Gregg Bush October 2, 2011 | 9:01 a.m.

If rich are the job
creators, when they shrink pay-
Roll, job destroyers?

(Report Comment)
John Schultz October 2, 2011 | 10:13 a.m.

I really wonder
when the Missourian staff
will print these beauties?

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith October 2, 2011 | 11:19 a.m.

@ John Schultz:

It's probably considered to be a recognized art form, John.

Apparently one can take a crucifix and submerge it in a vat of urine and that's considered to be an art form too, or so they say.

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle October 2, 2011 | 12:08 p.m.

I, for the record,
Enjoy Gregg's haiku responses
jumbling discourse.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams October 2, 2011 | 1:25 p.m.

Missourian posters like haiku
Although writing a sentence is not new.
On the bandwagon they jumped
but their writings could be lumped
With the manure from a giant gnu.

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle October 2, 2011 | 2:41 p.m.

Not another word.
Or, I swear to God,
I will write more.

(Report Comment)
Paul Allaire October 2, 2011 | 9:36 p.m.

Send them to IRAQ!!!
I will send them to IRAQ!!!
And then you too!!!

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle October 2, 2011 | 10:06 p.m.


(Report Comment)
Michael Williams October 2, 2011 | 10:40 p.m.

Derrick says, "More".

I was afraid I would not have my laugh of the day, but Derrick came through just in time.


(Report Comment)
Katy Bergen October 3, 2011 | 9:57 a.m.

Comments in haiku
the cure to manic Monday
Keep us laughing please

Katy Bergen
Assistant City Editor at The Missourian

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield October 3, 2011 | 1:55 p.m.

"Everything I have
I earned, said the straight, white male.
Blind to privilege."

"You know, I grew up in a family of 10 kids, first one to go to college, and I've earned my success. I've earned my right to fly private if I choose to do so."

Who said that to whom? One black man to another: the founder of BET to the president.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams October 3, 2011 | 2:14 p.m.


Great link.

I'm still trying to understand why a President of the US would demonize job-creators and reduce their sentiment and perception of financial risk. No explanation makes sense to me.

Except one.

A different agenda than "jobs".

PS: See these graphs? Ain't nothing good gonna happen until these graphs (and others) improve.

As for those current antibank demonstrators? LMAO. Financial non-wizards all....Talk about cutting your own throat!

PSS: Dow 10000 is coming soon to a portfolio near you.
I say by late next week, but that's a guess. Dow 10000 isn't a guess, tho. We're right on the precipice.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams October 3, 2011 | 2:22 p.m.

And then there are graphs like this one: AMR, the American Airlines owner.

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield October 3, 2011 | 2:36 p.m.

Dow 10,000 would be a buying opportunity for those of us who are 10+ years from retirement. Of course, one still has to be choosy instead of just buying every stock that's suddenly on sale.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams October 3, 2011 | 2:46 p.m.


Yes, 10K would be a buy-op.

Unless to goes to 8K.

Then, not so much.....

(Report Comment)
mike mentor October 3, 2011 | 3:50 p.m.

annoy liberals
work hard and succeed in life
oh and be happy

(Report Comment)
Gregg Bush October 3, 2011 | 7:58 p.m.

Thirty-five words in
Quote. Six first person pronouns.
Missing "we" or "us".

(Report Comment)
Gregg Bush October 3, 2011 | 8:00 p.m.

Reminded of John
Donne's "No man is an island."
Selfishness: a vice.

(Report Comment)
Gregg Bush October 3, 2011 | 8:07 p.m.

Success happens not
In a vacuum. You're welcome
For roads and bridges.

(Report Comment)
Gregg Bush October 3, 2011 | 8:16 p.m.

Use observation
To see if you can spot the
Irony. It's there.

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle October 3, 2011 | 9:06 p.m.

The "Too Big To Fail" banks will be the first to fail.

(Report Comment)
Luna Paydon January 19, 2012 | 10:11 p.m.

Please address the issue of why the minimum wage has not gone up. The director of the department of labor and industrial relations "opted out" of increasing minimum wage despite a 2006 change to minimum wage laws in Missouri, passed by a similar coalition of groups with overwhelming support from voters, which was supposed to allow for yearly adjustment in relation to the Consumer Price Index (CPI). While several other states also use CPI, their minimum wages HAVE gone up.
Why not Missouri? Why did the director "opt out". and how was it possible for him to do so? Most importantly, why wasn't this covered in the news?
We get so wrapped up the normative debates sometimes that we overlook important technicalities. As I've been reading through other states which also use CPI, they do not have language in the bill that says to "round to the nearest five cents" like in Missouri. Is this related?
I'm not an economist or a lawyer, so trying to read through proposed legislation and already passed legislation is a challenge, which is where news outlets should come in.

(Report Comment)

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