Social service agencies and employers are among those already displaying a keen interest in how Missouri’s amended minimum wage law is implemented next year.
Two examples of those groups in St. Joseph are welcoming the changed law, with one expressing the willingness to iron out differences in perspective that pertain to its consequences.
Whitney Lanning, executive director of Community Action Partnership of Greater St. Joseph, said the agency is surprised at the election’s outcome, yet is elated for the benefits the wage hikes should bestow upon low-income and middle-class families. Many clients are forced are compelled to work more than one job to make ends meet, she said, and must still seek assistance during a “crisis mode.”
“Raising the minimum wage is going to play an important role in making families self-sufficient,” Lanning said of the upcoming modifications. She added the crises stem from families’ needs to secure such essentials as transportation and child care, necessitating the extra jobs and requests for aid.
She said a contention by opponents — that the higher pay will translate into more expensive goods and services in the community — can be addressed by CAP with state lawmakers who will be preparing for the 2019 Missouri General Assembly.
“Is that a realistic concern?” Lanning asked.
She said the state’s minimum wage has failed to keep pace with rises in such areas as housing costs, and she hopes fewer and less-intensive requests of CAP’s programs will now be the result of the change.
Better savings habits by families and increased employment opportunities also could be forthcoming due to the wage hike, she added.
A Downtown business owner said placing more money in people’s pockets for spending in the economy can only reap the best of results.
“I think it’s going to be great in the long term for our community and our state,” said Dana Massin, owner of Manic Snail: Paper & Gifts, 618 Francis St.
Massin said she intends to hire staff in the new year and looks forward to paying them the type of wages that will help them focus on addressing their personal and family needs.
Under the law, Missouri’s existing $7.85 an hour wage will rise to $8.60 an hour starting Jan. 1, 2019, with additional increases planned for the years 2020 through 2023 to a total of $12 an hour.
The amendment exempts government employers from the increases.