FACT CHECK: State Sen. Kiki Curls says Missouri "is the state with the lowest paid workers"
Following a Missouri Senate Budget Committee hearing about Medicaid coverage, Sen. Kiki Curls recently said that Missouri “is the state with the lowest paid workers.”
We decided to see how Missouri’s workers compare to the rest of the country.
Curls’ office didn’t respond to our requests for the background information behind her claim. We see three ways to read her words. She might be talking about all workers, just private sector workers, or possibly, just state government workers. We examined all three.
The latest numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show the average weekly wage for all workers in Missouri is $846. This number places Missouri 31st and well above the state with the lowest paid workers, Mississippi, where workers make an average weekly wage of $706.
BLS reports show that in Missouri the average weekly wage in the private sector is $851. The national average is $965 per week. This ranks Missouri in the bottom half of all states, but far from having “the lowest paid workers.”
The BLS also reports the average weekly wages for state workers.
In the third quarter of 2015, Missouri’s state government employees made an average weekly wage of $803. This puts Missouri dead last of all the states.
The national average weekly wage is $1,083 for state government employees, more than $200 over Missouri’s average.
Senator Kiki Curls claimed that Missouri “is the state with the lowest paid workers.”
We don’t know if she meant all workers, workers in the private sector or state government workers. For any analysis that includes private sector employees, Missouri ranks closer to the bottom than the top, but it does not rank last.
Missouri does hold the distinction of having the lowest paid state workers, based on their average weekly wages.
That’s enough to make her statement partially accurate. We rate this claim Half True.
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Quarterly Employment and Wages: All workers, April 25, 2016
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Quarterly Employment and Wages: State Government, April 21, 2016
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Quarterly Employment and Wages: Private Sector, April 21, 2016
KMBZ, Missouri committee expected to wrap up state spending plan, April 4, 2016