Minimum wage hike set to reverse in Missouri
ST. LOUIS -- Cities all over the United States have been boosting their minimum wage. It's up to $15 an hour in Seattle, but it's going in the opposite direction in St. Louis, Missouri.
Amer Hawatmeh's family-owned restaurant in downtown St. Louis is struggling.
Along with rising sales taxes, and meat prices, a minimum wage hike to $10 an hour two months ago made it expensive to stay open. So he's cut back from five to two days a week for lunch. His hamburgers are smaller, his entrees pricier and his customers scarcer.
Hawatmeh believes it's not the government, but a combination of worker determination and customer demand that should set the correct wage.
"That's how I built myself," he said. "That's how I'm teaching my children to build themselves. Don't ask what do I get, ask what can I do."
And Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens agrees. Next month, the minimum wage will return to $7.70 an hour -- ten bucks an hour was a mistake, he says.
"Despite what you hear from liberals, it will take money out of people's pockets," Greitens said.
But after nationwide protests, the minimum wage went up on July 1, or will go up soon -- from Chicago to Flagstaff, Arizona, and Los Angeles to Washington, D.C.
Wanda Roberts, a minimum wage worker in St. Louis, said the new $10 wage brought in an extra $400 a month and helped the local economy.
"If we're making $10 an hour, we're going to go right back out and spend that money," Roberts said.
And now that it's being reversed, she says she would "go back to struggling."
"Trying to worry about how I'm going to pay my rent, how I'm going to pay my bills and how I'm going to have money left over to buy household supplies and food," she added.
In St. Louis, the minimum wage was going to increase to $11 an hour in January. Now, that won't happen. And the Economic Policy Institute estimates 38,000 workers could miss out on a raise.
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