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Group calls for increase in minimum wage

By Kevin Lavery, KWMU

St. Louis – On the eve of a Republican fundraiser for Missouri Senator Jim Talent, a citizens' group is speaking out in favor of an increase in the state minimum wage.

Talent voted against a bill that would have raised the federal minimum wage from $5.15 to $6.50 an hour.

The Missouri Pro Vote coalition backs an effort to get a similar state wage increase on the November ballot.

Washington University economics professor Fred Raines said the 19 states that have rates higher than the federal standard have reaped rewards.

"In 2005, their unemployment rate was actually lower by a slight amount than the 31 states that had the federal minimum," Raines said.

But Associated Industries of Missouri president Gary Marble says that rate would be indexed up every year, harming local businesses.

"There is no study that shows that increasing a minimum wage every year will decrease unemployment," Marble said. "That's impossible, because now you're increasing your cost of doing business every year. So it would make sense that that would cost jobs rather than increase the workforce."

Nearly 20 states have minimum wage rates higher than the federal standard, including Illinois.