Missouri’s minimum wage to increase Jan. 1

Missouri’s minimum wage is set to increase to $7.50 on Jan.1, thanks to a 2006 ballot initiative.

Effective Jan. 1, Missouri’s minimum wage will increase from $7.35 to $7.50 an hour due to a 2006 law, passed by voters, tying the state’s minimum wage to the cost of living index, though the law exempts businesses with gross sales less than $500,000.

The increase will put the state 25 cents higher than federal minimum wage and, effective Jan. 1, will join 20 other states with minimum wages above the federal level.

In a release from the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Chamber President Dan Mehan said it also makes the state’s minimum wage higher than all neighboring states, except Illinois, where the minimum wage is $8.25.

The Missouri Chamber had included eliminating the minimum wage in its “Fix the Six” list of legislative priorities from 2011. At the time, the chamber stated the need to eliminate the automatic escalator to prevent the state’s minimum wage from exceeding federal levels.

“As the minimum wage increases, the ability of employers to continue to employ workers is damaged — hitting entry level jobs especially hard,” Mehan said in the release. “It causes uncertainty and positions Missouri to raise its minimum wage to uncompetitive levels.”

A release from the National Employment Law Project, which supports increasing the minimum wage nationwide, states the increase will affect 104,000 workers.

“As Congress drags its feet on raising the federal minimum wage, more and more Americans are earning poverty-level wages in expanding industries like retail and fast-food,” said Christine Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project, in a release. “In the face of federal inaction, states are boosting the paychecks of the lowest paid workers, promoting growth and consumer spending, and hopefully providing an example for Congress to follow.”

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