Raise minimum wage to improve quality of life

by Crystal Quade

I’ve spent the past decade of my life in the nonprofit sector, public service and talking with my constituents. When I talk to folks at the doors, the issue I hear about most often is the difficulty my constituents have paying their bills, buying groceries and meeting basic human needs. In Missouri, the current minimum wage is $7.85 an hour, a wage that adds up to a mere $16,000 a year. This is simply not good enough. As a recent investigative piece in The New York Times illustrated, jobs are not the solution to poverty; fair wages are the solution. This is clearly illustrated by the fact that while Missouri only has a 3 percent unemployment rate, poverty is at a startling 14 percent. Raising the minimum wage could drastically improve the quality of life for millions of Missourians.

In 2017, after the people of St. Louis voted in huge numbers to raise the city’s minimum wage, Missouri House Republicans struck down the ballot initiative, effectively ruling against local control and ruling that “the state knows best.” Since then, the people of Missouri have gathered hundreds of thousands of signatures for a statewide minimum wage increase. On November 6, Missouri voters have the opportunity to gradually raise the minimum wage to $12. If enough of us show up at the ballot box and this initiative passes, not only will working class families be able to more easily make ends meet, but the initiative would also have positive impacts on Missouri’s economy. The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago’s study proved that “every dollar increase in the minimum wage results in $2,800 in new consumer spending per household over the following year.” Additionally, it is estimated that raising the minimum wage would increase state and local government tax revenue by as much as $214 million.

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