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Group says wage increase hurts workers

By Tom Weber, KWMU

St. Louis, MO. – A public policy research group called Show-Me Institute says in a new report that a higher minimum wage in Missouri would hurt the lowest-paid workers.

Voters will decide next month whether the wage should increase from $5.15 an hour to $6.50.

The institute's data suggest businesses that have to pay more in salaries would cut the lowest-paid and lowest-skilled workers first to meet costs.

The group's Rex Sinquefield says the market determines wages and the ballot question would force the minimum wage to a higher than market rate.

"Those people who say 'it might make me better off' don't understand that it's much more likely to make them worse off than to cost them their job," Sinquefield said. "So it's natural to understand why some people want to see it, but they don't fully understand the effects of it."

But Sara Howard with the group that got the question on the ballot disputes that.

"Research indicates that the minimum wage is such a small portion of the economy that raising the minimum wage doesn't impact job loss or growth," Howard said. "And the fact there has been job growth at a faster rate in states that have raised the minimum wage supports that fact."

The ballot question also would raise Missouri's minimum wage each year to adjust for changes in the Consumer Price Index.