Missouri’s minimum wage hike falls short for some workers

ST. LOUIS – Several new laws will go into effect in Missouri earlier this year. One is an increase in the minimum wage, which some business owners see as just a drop in the bucket in a highly competitive job market.

As Missourians rang in the New Year, they also heralded an increase in the minimum wage from $11.15 to $12 an hour, an 85-cent increase. It’s part of a voter-approved plan to raise the minimum wage every year through 2023.

Missouri is one of 27 states that are gradually increasing wages for private companies. Illinois is another company raising its minimum wage from $12 to $13 an hour.

While 15 states have reached the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, it has stagnated since 2009, making it difficult to find hires in an already ambitious workforce still reeling from the aftershocks of the pandemic and inflation is.

Someone working full-time at the state minimum wage would make just over $15,000 a year before taxes. A full-time job in Missouri with its new minimum wage would net you just under $25,000, and $27,000 if you work in Illinois.

According to Rent.com, the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment is in Missouri is $1,245 a month; in Illinois, it’s $1,442 a month.

“I’ve been looking for months. It was really hard to find, so I’m offering them more than minimum wage. Still, nobody wants to work,” said Dae Lee, owner of Katsuya in the Delmar Loop.

Monday was Lee’s first day that he opened his little shop. But with no staff, he had to rely on family instead.

“This is an easy place so even with people with no experience I start at $15 an hour, still can’t find people so I go $16, $17; still no people,” Lee said. “But if I pay them too much, I’m not making enough money, so that’s the biggest problem.”

“Everything is for sale except dog. His name is Max,” said Elisheva Heit, the owner of Flamenco Exquisite Flower Design.

Heit runs her shop alone after recently trying to hire staff without success.

“It’s hard. I can’t afford to make mistakes,” she said. “Either I plan it well or it’s a domino effect when things fall apart and I can’t really do that.”

“I was very scared because I think if the minimum wage goes up and the lowest paid workers automatically make more, this needs to be rolled up so that the highest paid workers get the same raise,” said Kelly Von Plonski, owner of Subterranean Books .

With a bigger space and making more, Von Plonski is happy to see several employees get a boost; but for many, just jumping on board isn’t enough.

“It’s definitely been the weirdest two years of the last 22 years,” she said. “Higher turnover than we usually have, we usually have people who stay forever.”

She and many other frustrated small business owners don’t see this as much help, but a conversation starter about pay and labor shortages that never seems to end.

“Maybe one day we’ll find some kind of answer together,” Heit said.

https://fox2now.com/news/missouri/missouris-minimum-wage-increase-falls-short-for-some-workers/ Missouri’s minimum wage hike falls short for some workers

Sarah Y. Kim

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