Higher Minimum Wage Would Match Missouri Living Wage

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FULTON - The minimum wage is $7.25 an hour in Missouri, and some people in Congress thinks it needs to be higher for it to truly be a living wage. The living wage depends on local costs and situations, said Financial Planning Specialist Brenda Procter. But Procter says $7.25 is not enough for any Missourian, and that the living wage is between $8 and $22.

"It just doesn't meet it. I see families struggling more and more. More of them are turning to payday lenders. They are coming up with different strategies, because they just don't have enough money to live," said Procter.

Working forty hours a week at minimum wage comes to $290 total to spend on groceries, bills, gasoline -- and taxes. Many people accept food stamps, though some don't, due to circumstance. Fulton native Denzel Weaver works a in minimum wage job, but only gets 10 hours a week. He lives in public housing and -- ironically since he works for a pizza shop -- gets food stamps. His paycheck just covers his bills.

"I don't have any spending money. I try to save a dollar or two to buy something for my mom or stepfather," said Weaver.

Weaver said a higher minimum wage would be life changing.

"I could spend on myself if I wanted to, or put it in savings for a time in the future," said Weaver.

Though the higher paycheck would help many Americans, critics say the pressure on employers would cause the job market to be more competitive and raise prices.

"It would be reflected in our menu prices," said Addison-Sophia's owner Matt Jenne.

Procter said that the extra $2.75 would go back into the economy.

"When you put an extra dollar in the hands of low wage workers, they spend it because they have to," said Procter.

Missouri's minimum wage is tied to inflation, and experts think it could rise in the fall if Congress doesn't pass minimum wage legislation before that time. The last time Congress passed minimum wage legislation was 2006, before the 2008 market crash.