COLUMBIA - With the new year comes a new minimum wage in Missouri. As of Jan. 1, 2022, all private, non-exempt businesses have had to pay their workers a minimum of $11.15 per hour

That’s 85 cents more than the prior year, and the Missouri Labor Department projects minimum wage to reach $12 per hour in 2023 for all private businesses. Public employers and businesses that make less than half a million dollars in gross annual sales are exempt from the minimum wage requirements

Dave Elman, owner and coffee roaster of Fretboard Coffee, said the wage increase was a “double-edge sword” for business owners like himself. 

“Paying everybody more continually is difficult,” Elman said. “When wages go up, we have to pay more to do the same work and brew the same coffee and roast the same beans.”

However, Elman said he fully supports the wage increase out of necessity.

“It’s impossible to make a living out of minimum wage working 40 hours a week as it is,” Elman said. “Prices are just not what they used to be.”

His business has a total of 10 employees, and Elman said he pays them more than the state’s minimum wage. He said he’s willing to pay for loyalty. 

“My thinking is that if you’re only willing to pay someone the bare minimum that you’re allowed to by law, what’s going to stop them from going to any other place that would do that?” Elman said. 

However, to account for raising labor costs, Elman said customers might eventually see changes.

“At a certain point, we will have to increase prices to account for raising costs, that’s just the reality,” Elman said. “ I’m trying to put that off for as long as possible.”

Employers are required to pay tipped employees at least $5.575, or half of the minimum wage. While Fretboard employees earn tips, Elman doesn’t factor that into their base pay.

“We pay them above and beyond minimum wage in order to have them make enough money but also all the tips go back to the employees,” Elman said.

Elman owns Fretboard, but he also works to roast the beans and answer phones just like his employees. He attributes his business’s success to the dedication of his employees.

“Businesses like ours cannot exist without our staff, but our staff also have the right to have their own lives and make a decent living," he said.

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