Missouri Chamber opposes minimum wage increase

The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry, alongside other business advocates, voiced strong opposition this week to a proposal to sharply increase the state’s minimum wage.

Senate Bill 531, sponsored by Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis, would raise Missouri’s minimum wage to $10 per hour. Missouri’s current minimum wage is $7.50 an hour.

The floor for tipped wages would also rise from 50 percent to 60 percent of the minimum wage. In addition, the bill would require cost of living increases each year.

Sen. Nasheed is proposing to have voters decide on the change.

The Missouri Chamber joined a host of other businesses and organizations testifying against these attempts to drastically increase costs for companies that employ minimum wage workers.

The Missouri Chamber noted that as wages increase, businesses are forced to try to hold overall salary expenses in check. Often, they achieve this by actually reducing their workforce.

“The negative impact of this proposal will fall directly on the people it is attempting to help. While minimum wage employment is seldom considered a dream job, these jobs provide a valuable place to start and offer workers something to build upon,” said Jay Atkins, general counsel for the Missouri Chamber. “By raising the cost of providing these jobs to Missouri workers, we are closing the entry point to our workforce. This is bad for workers, and it’s bad for our state’s economy.”

The bill was heard this week in the Senate Small Business, Industry and Insurance Committee. No vote was taken.

Those backing the increase have also filed an initiative petition but have not begun gathering the signatures needed to place the change on the ballot. The new minimum wage would go into effect in 2016.

For more information on this issue, or to share how this proposal could impact your business, please contact Jay Atkins, general counsel for the Missouri Chamber, at jatkins@mochamber.com or by phone at 573-634-3511.


Missouri Chamber says news that Missouri’s minimum wage will increase again underlines need to eliminate automatic escalator

The Missouri Department of Labor announced today that Missouri’s minimum wage will increase again.  Effective Jan. 1, all businesses will be required to pay a minimum $7.50 hourly rate, except retail and service businesses whose annual gross sales are less than $500,000.  Currently the minimum wage in Missouri is $7.35.

That will Missouri’s minimum wage 25 cents above the federal minimum wage and makes our state’s minimum wages higher than many other states in the nation.  Missouri’s minimum wage is higher than all neighboring states, but Illinois. 

Missouri’s minimum wage law was changed in 2006 by a vote of the people.  The law included an automatic escalator based on an increase in the cost of living as measured by the previous year’s Consumer Price Index.  

“As the minimum wage increases, the ability of employers to continue to employ workers is damaged – hitting entry level jobs especially hard,” said Missouri Chamber President Dan Mehan.  “It causes uncertainty and positions Missouri to raise its minimum wage to uncompetitive levels.  We opposed the change to the law in 2006 and maintain that wages should be set by market demand, not bureaucrats.”