A new study released by the Save Our State’s Jobs coalition – a group which primarily represents business interests – points to the proposed minimum wage increase on the November ballot hurting minimum wage workers. Jim Kistler is with Associated Industries of Missouri, a member of the coalition. He says an increase in the minimum wage would put Missouri at a competetive disadvantage with its neighboring states and it might cost some minimum wage earners their jobs because a business would maintain the same level of labor costs it has prior to wages rising. In essence, there is only so much money in wages to go around, so some workers might be let go or new ones might not be hired. The Give Missourians a Raise coalition – which spearheaded the effort to put the initiative on November’s ballot – rejects that suggestion. It has brought in experts from outside the state to talk about their experiences with minimum wage increases. Marilyn Watkins with the Economic Opportunity Institute in Washington State says there have been no negative effects in her state, which was the first in the nation to include an automatic cost of living adjustment to the minimum wage. Watkins says the number of restaurant jobs increased by 8,000 in 2005 and by 5,000 in 2006. She adds the number of retail jobs rose by 7,000 in 2005 and by 10,000 in 2006. Missouri’s proposal would raise the minimum hourly wage from $5.15 to $6.50 and would tie future increases to cost of living increases.
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