St. Louis Slashes Minimum Wage — Will Other Cities Follow?

Progressives across the country have been extremely successful in passing living wage ordinances that will eventually increaseáthe mandatory minimum wage. The Fight for $15 movementáand other unions and activist groups made an impact in wage battles throughoutáMaryland, California, Minnesota, Arizona, Oregon and Illinois. The recently increased hourly wages in these states might make low income employeesáone step closer to being able to afford apartments, buy groceries and raise families without needing to work multiple jobs.

Meanwhile, in St. Louis, Missouri, the city is taking its minimum wage in the opposite direction. Will other red states follow suit?

The U.S. minimum wage hasn’t changed in a decade, but states and cities often have control over their own wage ordinances, allowing them to raise and lower wages at will, as long as they exceedáthe federal baseline. Currently, there is not a single state in the nation in which a two bedroom apartment is affordable on a minimum wage salary. Even the most affordable state –áArkansasá–árequires earnings of at least $13 per hour.

$15 per hour has been determined to beáthe most basic entry level wage an employeeácan potentially live on, but even states that are striving to raise their wages are far from meeting that goal.

And now Missouri has decided to reverse course. Governor Eric Greitens announced that the minimum wage in St. Louis will no longer increase from $10 to $11 as it was previously scheduled to do. Instead, it will actually drop to just $7.70, the state’s current allowable minimum.

“The $10 hourly wage was slated to increase to $11 an hour in January 2018, but Greitens cited economic consequences if he didn’t stop the ordinance from going through,” reportsáBusiness Insider. “‘It will kill jobs,’ Greitens said of the increase, according to the Post-Dispatch. ‘And despite what you hear from liberals, it will take money out of people’s pockets.’”

The pockets the governor seems most concerned about looting appear to be those of wealthy business owners, and high wage earners who can afford to purchase meals, goods and services because they already makeáa living wage. But what Greitens is actually doing is taking money directlyáfrom minimum wage workers.

“One group, Fight for $15, slammed Greitens in a Facebook post: ‘Hurting people who have it the hardest isn’t just bad governing, it’s pathological,’” CNN reports. “Cynthia Sanders, a janitor wrote in theáSt. Louis Post-Dispatch in June, that ‘lowering the minimum wage would be unimaginably cruel.’”

Meanwhile, opponents insistáthat the move will hurt the state financially, as low wage earners are forced to turn to state resources in order to survive.

“[Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis] contends that Greitens’ decision will ultimately cost the state, because workers who may have had a chance at more independence through higher local minimum wages will remain reliant on Medicaid and food stamps,” writesáGoverning.com. Ironically, once those who were previously self-sufficient look to the government for aid, they will be denied and chastised by Republicans who blame them for not being able to “pull themselves up by their own bootstraps.”

Unfortunately, what is happening in Missouri willálikely spread to other states with conservative legislatures, too. While progressive cities inside red states can pass local ordinances to improve wages, allow safety for undocumented immigrants, protect the rights of LGBT people and promote other policies, conservative lawmakers are demanding that municipalities give up their own ability to make laws and instead be governed by state rules.

The same lawmakers who argued for complete state independence from federal laws under a Democratic president now want their progressive cities to hand over their own local freedomáand bend to their rule from the state capitol.

Missouri’s governor may be the first to rescind living wages, but unfortunately he is unlikely to be the last. And even worse, local wage control is only the first thing that conservative lawmakers are coming to remove.

Photo Credit: Rian Castillo/Flickr

56 comments

Amanda M
Amanda M3 months ago

Margie Fourie, if you're working TWO jobs and still struggle to pay the rent and bills like so many people in this country do, would YOU feel grateful to have work? If you're not getting a living wage for the work you do, it's little more than slavery. Sadly, too many people in this country are busting their balls working two or even three jobs just to afford the necessities in life (rent, food, utilities), and still have to rely on services like Medicaid or food stamps because their pay is still not enough. And yet the CEOs and higher-ups aren't worrying about paying their bills-in fact, they're OVERPAID and can definitely stand to put more money back into their companies to help their employees who want to simply get ahead in life and grab their fair share of the American Dream (read self-sufficiency!). The living wage has been outpaced by the cost of living, and the 1%'s selfishness and greed has only made things worse.

SEND
Margie FOURIE
Margie FOURIE4 months ago

Well If one has work, they should be grateful.

SEND
Eric Lees
Eric Lees4 months ago

@Lorraine Andersen

For one even our poor would be rich in most of the world. And we are not all that rich when you consider our debt, the dollar being the world reserve currency have allowed us to live beyond our means for decades. But you are correct that it should not be this way, we could be much more prosperous than we currently are. Over time our government has grown along with it the manipulation and those distortion of the markets. As a result we have fairly large inequality. The only solution is to get the government out of the way and unleash the power of the people which is the free market.

SEND
David F
David F4 months ago

Brian F.
https://www.prageru.com/courses/foreign-affairs/how-socialism-ruined-my-country

SEND
David F
David F4 months ago

Does the minimum wage help Americans who are in financial straits?

https://www.prageru.com/courses/economics/does-minimum-wage-prevent-poverty

SEND
Lorraine A
Lorraine Andersen4 months ago

I think that it is horrible that a country that is supposed to the as rich and advanced that more than 1/2 the people do not make enough money to live on. They are forced to work 2 jobs just to keep a roof over their heads and a bit of food on the table. Doesn't sound right to me.

SEND
Carl R
Carl R4 months ago

Thanks!!!

SEND
David F
David F4 months ago

Almost Every Care2 article advocates hate or new ruling class seizure of personal freedoms, chipping away at our Constitution and Bill of Rights .

SEND
David F
David F4 months ago

Paul, Anne, Karen. Central control anti freedom devotees keeps promoting discrimination laws against blacks and minorities when advocating for a smaller labor force thru forced minimum wage laws. Anti free market liberals still think that the Government should nationalize individuals freedom to negotiate for their own time and labor.

SEND
Norman P
Norman P4 months ago

Someone should start a fund to help these minimum wage people be able to stay out of work for a few days! Places like Home Depot, who tout themselves as the biggest home goods store IN THE WORLD would lose most of their help because they pay their employees an already too low minimum wage. The whole corporate structure is set to steal every penny they can. Like they can't afford it. The poor are so poor that they think these corporations will go broke paying their employees more money. Then the corporations will say they have to lay off half of the help.
There'll be more unemployment if we raise the minimum. They could probably double these people's pay and still make an outrageous profit. It's all the big corporations that do this. Then they pay nothing in taxes to boot! Then the rich write tax breaks into the health care law so they can make, or TAKE more money! These pigs have to be reeled in soon or else nobody will have anything but them. We'll be their slaves. You have Trumps supporters say that they went to school so they could make more. "We worked for it," they'll say. They think everybody that isn't like them are bums and moochers! Everybody isn't a brain surgeon. Everybody's circumstance is different. They found a way to have slaves again, they're bringing back slavery.

SEND