Published On: Mon, May 7th, 2012

Missouri Coalition Submits Petition to Get Minimum Wage Increase on the Ballot in November

By the National Employment Law Project

Jefferson City, MO – On Sunday, a coalition of advocates for low-paid workers in Missouri successfully submitted a petition to place an increase in the state minimum wage on the ballot this November. The proposed increase would raise Missouri’s minimum wage by one dollar to $8.25 per hour, with annual cost of living adjustments in subsequent years.

The last time that Missouri raised its minimum wage was in 2006 – also by ballot initiative – where voters approved the measure by an overwhelming 3 to 1 margin. Similar levels of support are expected this year, as an expansive coalition, including Missouri Jobs with Justice, the Kansas City-area faith coalition, and Communities Creating Opportunity, submitted nearly twice the number of signatures required to get the proposed increase on the ballot.

In recent weeks, the State Assembly in Connecticut passed legislation to raise the minimum wage. The New York Assembly is expected to do the same this month.  Additional minimum wage increases have moved through labor committees in New Jersey and Massachusetts, while other proposals are pending in Illinois and California, as well as San Jose and Albuquerque.

Raising Missouri’s minimum wage to $8.25 per hour would deliver a much-needed boost to the state’s low-paid workforce while also supporting the state’s economic recovery. According to the Economic Policy Institute, the proposed increase would affect over 450,000 workers in the state.  This pay raise would in turn boost consumer spending, which would create jobs across the state.

Workers in Missouri are not alone: Across the country, low-paid workers are struggling to make due with less as incomes continue to lag in the post-Recession recovery. A recent study by NELP revealed that, from March 2011 through March 2012, real average hourly earnings actually fell 0.6 percent for all private sector workers and declined by even a great degree – 1.0 percent –for nonsupervisory and production workers. Even as corporate profits have successfully rebounded in recent years, workers in real terms are earning less now than a year ago.

Raising the minimum wage remains a crucial first step toward addressing the wage crisis facing America’s workforce. The current federal minimum wage, which stands at $7.25 per hour, falls significantly below its historic standard: If it had simply kept pace with inflation since 1968, the federal minimum wage would equal $10.55 per hour today.

The National Employment Law Project is a non-partisan, not-for-profit organization that conducts research and advocates on issues affecting low-wage and unemployed workers. 

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