Raising the minimum wage becomes topic of conversation on Labor Day

SPRINGFIELD – Minimum wage has once again become a topic of conversation after Missouri U.S. Senate candidate Jason Kander spoke about raising it.

After a Labor Day parade Monday in Springfield, Missouri, Kander said he would like to help raise minimum wage over time if he were to be elected to represent Missouri in the U.S. Senate.

Current law student Fares Akremi talked about how people need to educate themselves on the topic because it is one that has many layers and can be complicated.

“It’s a complicated economic question, but there are definitely economists who have tackled the problem, who are up for the task,” Akremi said.

Akremi also said that people need to be aware that there are both positive and negative outcomes from raising the minimum wage.

“There are negative potential outcomes, small businesses have to stomach extra costs but it’s [also] a net positive,” Akremi said.

Kander would like to see the overall minimum wage raised to $12 an hour over time, so that it could be a living wage for those with families and loans. Currently, the federal minimum wage is $7.25, and Missouri’s minimum wage is $7.65.

Kander is competing for the Senate seat against current Republican U.S. Senator Roy Blunt who in the past has voted against raising minimum wage. In January 2007, Blunt voted no on vote number 2007-018, which sought to increase federal minimum wage to $7.25 an hour. The bill ended up passing, 315-116, raising federal minimum wage.

The big question that remains however is how raising minimum wage would positively or negatively affect small, locally-owned businesses.

Joe Chevalier, a local business owner, said that he believes raising it to $12.00 an hour is a beneficial idea. “It’s been a long time since we had a minimum wage that was a living wage, and I would be in favor of raising it to [$12.00 an hour],” Chevalier said.

Chevalier is the owner of Yellow Dog Bookshop.

He sees raising the minimum wage as a way to avoid more people working 60-70 hours a week with multiple jobs just to make enough to survive.

“If we had a higher minimum wage, I think it would be a positive, upward spiral,” Chevalier said. 

He also said he recognizes that some people could see the push to raise as a negative. “Some businesses who run a very, very tight margin might need to rethink their business model a little bit."

Yellow Dog Bookshop currently has four part-time employees not including Chevalier.

Previously, KOMU 8 News has spoken to mid-Missouri businesses that disagree with raising the state minimum wage; however, none were available for comment on Monday. Some business owners felt it would make finding good employees more difficult, and others worried it could hurt the economy's growth at the time. 

In Seattle, Mayor Edward B. Murray signed into law to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, phased in over time. This began in April of 2015. Under this law, small businesses will reach the $15 minimum wage after seven years while large employers must reach the wage after three years.

Calls to both Kander and Blunt’s office about this topic were made Monday (Labor Day), but neither were returned.

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