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Federal Minimum Wage Increases to $7.25

As of today, the federal minimum wage increased to $7.25 per hour, taking precedent over Missouri’s previous minimum wage of $7.05 per hour. KSMU’s Theresa Carter spoke with a few local restaurant employees, working for minimum wage, about their pay increase.

Employees working in the restaurants like the Subway on East Harrison, are discussing the pros and cons of the new minimum wage increase. Obviously, some working for minimum wage are pleased. However, this increase can make it difficult for business owners to rise to the challenge.

Melissa Stout, assistant general manager of this Subway, said while the raise may be good for many employees, this kind of jump in wages can place a strain on small business owners. She also said it can create tension between employees.

"Some employees don't talk about it much. Others feel they do deserve it, and if they aren't getting it, then it makes the workplace stressful. They feel that if everyone else is getting it, they should too. They don't always understand the business aspects of it."

Many employees who have earned pay increases may feel some resentment to new employees coming in at a higher wage. Stout also talks about how small business owners would like to be able to also give a raise to those employees who have been around a while, but are not always able to because the funds go toward adjusting the minimum wage.

One of those employees who has been around a while is Sondra Flanagan. She already makes $7.25 an hour. Yesterday, that would have been a cut above anyone working for minimum wage. But today, she’ll be paid the same as anyone just starting out. She says it would be nice if her pay would go up too.

"Well, I hope I get a raise because that is what I am making now. And with minimum wage going up the cost of living goes up, the cost of gas goes up, and I drive 30 miles to get to work. I am not exactly thrilled with it, but I am not down upon it either. People that I work with are all college students, so the more money they can get the better."

Due to a 2006 ballot measure, Missouri has to recalculate its minimum wage annually based on the national Consumer Price Index. This could later result in the Missouri minimum wage becoming even higher than the federal rate. But the $7.25 per hour federal minimum wage will remain in place at least until January. For KSMU news, I’m Theresa Carter.