Yael T. Abouhalkah

Higher minimum wage scores big victories in Missouri, New Jersey and Washington

Updated: 2013-11-13T01:30:48Z

By Yael T. Abouhalkah

The Kansas City Star

Supporters of higher minimum wages for America’s low-paid workers — including in Missouri — have scored several victories in recent days.

The most significant news is the Obama administration’s embrace of a rise in the minimum wage from its current level of $7.25 up to $10.10 an hour.

That could be a game-changer for the national movement to finally provide living wages for millions of Americans.

But other positive changes are even more concrete:

• On Friday, Missouri announced that the state’s minimum wage would rise from $7.35 to $7.50 an hour on Jan. 1, 2014. That’s about a 2 percent increase.

• Earlier this week the voters of New Jersey approved a constitutional amendment that established the minimum wage in that state at $8.25 an hour. And it will increase automatically with inflation.

• Voters in Seatac, Wash., appear to have approved a measure that would hike the minimum wage to $15 an hour for thousands of people who work in the Seattle suburb and at the Seattle airport in that suburb.

Here’s more detail on the Missouri change announced Friday by the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations:

“All businesses are required to pay at minimum, the $7.50 hourly rate, except retail and service businesses whose annual gross sales are less than $500,000. Per state law, the minimum wage rate is calculated once a year and may increase or decrease based on the cost of living as measured by the previous year’s Consumer Price Index. Missouri law does not allow the state’s minimum wage rate to be lower than the federal minimum wage rate.

“Compensation for tipped employees must also total at least $7.50 per hour. Employers are required to pay tipped employees at least 50 percent of the minimum wage, or the amount necessary to bring the employee’s total compensation to a minimum of $7.50 per hour.”

To reach Yael T. Abouhalkah, call 816-234-4887 or send email to abouhalkah@kcstar.com. Follow him at Twitter.com/YaelTAbouhalkah.

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