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Minimum wages rise for Missouri workers

Missouri workers have something to cheer about in 2015. The state's minimum wage got a 15 cent boost with a cost-of-living adjustment. As of Jan. 1, the minimum wage is $7.65 per hour. Eight additional states have similar wage increases in 2015 according to the inflation indexes in their laws.

Missouri joins 28 other states that will have raised their minimum wages on or before the first of the year higher than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. Employers in states with their own minimum wage statutes must pay their workers the higher of the federal or state rates if they are covered by the statutes.

During their state legislative sessions in 2014, the District of Columbia and 10 states passed minimum wage increases. An additional four states approved pay rate increases in ballot measures that passed voter approval in general elections.

For Missouri workers who fall into the classification of tipped employees, meaning that they earn an unspecified amount of wages through customers' gratuities, there are also changes. According to the law, companies must pay them a minimum wage of half the legal minimum, which allows a "tip credit" to make up the difference in their wages.

In order to equal the minimum rate of $7.50 per hour in 2014, Missouri employers had to augment workers' wages by $3.75 per hour. Federal statutes mandate that if a tipped employee's gratuities, together with their employer's wages of $2.13 an hour, are less than the federal minimum hourly wage, the company must pay the difference to their workers.

Statistics provided by the Congressional Research Office indicate that the federal minimum wage's peak value in real terms occurred 47 years ago in 1968. For the purchasing power of the 1968 minimum wage to equal the minimum wage in 2014, it would have to be increased to $10.69. Consumer price increases kept the buying power of minimum wage earners from remaining commensurate.

If you discover that your employer is failing to comply with the new Missouri pay rates, you may wish to consult a legal professional to work to correct the situation.

Source: The Kansas City Star, "Missouri’s minimum wage will rise in 2015, but there will be no change in Kansas" Diane Stafford, Dec. 17, 2014

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