Missouri joins nearly half of U.S. states raising minimum wage

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By TIM ROWDEN
Editor

MISSOURI joined 21 states and the District of Columbia raising their minimum wage this year. Could a federal minimum wage increase be in the offing? – Jeff Curry/Getty Images

Missouri’s minimum wage went up by 75 cents to $8.60 an hour on Jan. 1, in the first of five annual increases overwhelmingly approved by Missouri voters last November.

Following this initial increase, Missouri’s minimum wage will increase 85 cents each year on Jan.1 for the next four years.

The wage floor will rise to $9.45 an hour in 2020, $10.30 an hour in 2021 and $11.15 an hour in 2022 before topping out at $12 an hour in 2023 –– a boost of nearly 53 percent from its previous level of $7.85 an hour.

The minimum wage measure, Proposition B, was placed on the Nov. 6 ballot via an initiative petition organized and funded largely by a coalition of labor organizations. Missouri voters approved it with 62.3 percent support.

Missouri joins 21 other states and the District of Columbia raising the minimum wage this year. Nineteen of those states implemented increases on Jan. 1.

“While it isn’t unusual for there to be minimum wage rate increases in January, there is a growing trend

to increase wages in response to calls for making sure the minimum wage is a living wage,” said Barbara O’Dell, JD, an employment law analyst with Wolters Kluwer Legal & Regulatory U.S., a global leader in regulatory and employment law.

“The incremental wage increases, including in California and Washington, which are moving minimum wages toward a final goal of $15 per hour, are an example of how states are trying to address this issue,” she said. “We are seeing a stepped approach to gradually raise it rather than a monster step all at once.”

NEW MINIMUM WAGE RATES

The states with a new higher minimum wage, including the District of Columbia, are:

• Alaska – $9.89 per hour.
• Arizona – $11 per hour.
• Arkansas – $9.25.
• California – $12 per hour, for businesses with 26 or more employees; $11 for smaller employers.
• Colorado – $11.10 per hour.
• Delaware – $8.75 per hour.
• District of Columbia – $13.25 per hour.
• Florida – $8.46 per hour.
• Maine – $11 per hour.
• Massachusetts – $12 per hour.
• Michigan – $9.45 per hour.
• Minnesota – $9.86 per hour (up from $9.65) for employees of large employers with an annual gross volume of sales of not less than $500,000. Small employers must pay employees a minimum wage of at least $8.04 per hour (up from $7.87).
• Missouri – $8.60, gradually rising to $12 by 2023.
• Montana – $8.50 per hour.
• New Jersey – $8.85 per hour.
• New York – Tiered/Rates vary by region: $15 per hour, New York City employers with 11 or more employees, and $13.50 per hour, New York City employers with 10 or fewer employees; $12 per hour, Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester counties; $11.10 per hour, remainder of the state.  The minimum wage for workers in fast food establishments is now $15 per hour in New York City and $12.75 per hour for fast food workers in the rest of the state.
The minimum wage at all airports (LaGuardia, JFK and Newark Liberty International) is $15 an hour and will increase to $15.60 on September 1, 2019.
• Ohio – $8.55 per hour, up 25 cents from $8.30 per hour, based on a 2.9% increase in the cost of living. Wage rates are adjusted annually based on inflation. The minimum wage rate applies to employees of businesses with annual gross receipts of $314,000 per year (changed from $305,000 in 2018). For employees at smaller companies and for 14- and 15-year-olds, the state minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, which is tied to the federal rate.
• Oregon – Tiered, with the highest rate in the Metro Portland area at $12 per hour, the lowest in rural (non-Urban) areas at $10.50 per hour, and a minimum wage of $10.75 per hour in the rest of the state.
• Rhode Island – $10.50 per hour.
• South Dakota – $9.10 per hour.
• Vermont – $10.78 per hour.
• Washington – $12 per hour, for employees age 18 or older per voter-approved Initiative. Workers under 16 years old can be paid 85 percent of the adult minimum wage, or $10.20 per hour.

HIGHEST AND LOWEST

Currently, the highest statewide minimum wage rate is in the District of Columbia, at $13.25 per hour, followed by Massachusetts and Washington each at $12 per hour.

“The lowest minimum wage rates are at $5.15 are in Georgia and Wyoming,” said O’Dell. “However, most employers and employees would be subject to the higher federal minimum wage rate of $7.25 per hour. In Michigan, although the wage is technically rising in 2019, the state recently passed legislation to slow the incremental increase over the next decade.”

FEDERAL FIGHT FOR $15?

There has been talk of raising the federal minimum wage, O’Dell said, but in recent years, with Republicans controlling the U.S. House, Senate and White House, those proposals have fallen on deaf ears.

Congressman Bobby Scott (D-VA), the new chairman of the Education and Workforce Committee, has announced his intent to take up the Fight for $15, the effort to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $15 an hour.

“It will be interesting to see what happens now that the House is moving to Democratic control,” O’Dell said. “There has been some talk that they also would like to move it to $15 an hour. The question becomes will the Senate be on board with that? The White House is disinterested in doing that, so it will be interesting to see what happens.”

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