A $12 Minimum Wage for All Missourians: More Than 2 in 3 Workers Who Will Benefit From Proposition B Live Outside Missouri’s Two Major Cities

This November, Missouri voters will decide whether to increase the state’s minimum wage to $12 by 2023. Someone currently working full-time for minimum wage in the state earns only $314 per week.[1] If Proposition B passes, approximately 677,000 workers across the state will see their incomes rise. That represents nearly 1 out of 4 workers in Missouri.  This fact sheet presents the first county-by-county analysis of who will benefit from increasing Missouri’s minimum wage to $12 by 2023.

Working families in every single county in Missouri, regardless of population size and density, would benefit. Over 460,000 of those who will benefit (directly and indirectly) live outside the City of St. Louis and Kansas City. In Greene County, where Springfield is located, for example, a quarter of all workers will benefit. Even in the smallest and most rural counties in the state, hundreds of workers’ wages would rise, helping to provide stability to their families and households. If Proposition B succeeds, Missouri will join the more than 20 states that have raised their minimum wage since 2012. The appendix includes a chart estimating how many workers in each Missouri county will benefit.

Out of the 677,000 Workers That Proposition B Benefits, More than 2 out of 3 Live Outside the City of St. Louis and Kansas City

A NELP analysis shows that if voters approve the initiative, 677,000 workers, living in each of Missouri’s 114 counties, plus the City of St. Louis, will see the benefits of a higher wage.[2] An analysis of Economic Policy Institute (EPI) data has also found that more than 460,000 of these workers live outside of the City of St. Louis and Kansas City.[3] While gradually increasing the minimum wage to $12 is good for all Missourians, many of the areas in Missouri with the highest concentrations of workers who would benefit under a $12 minimum wage are outside of the state’s two major population centers, the City of St. Louis and Kansas City.[4]

Based on NELP’s analysis, in 33 counties, Proposition B would increase wages for at least one-third of each county’s workers. All of those counties lie outside of the City of St. Louis and Kansas City.[5] See Table 1 for a breakdown of Missouri counties where at least 1 in 3 workers will see their wages increase through Proposition B.

[table id=19 /]

Workers in Every Single County Across the State—Nearly 1 in 4 Working Missourians in Total—Would Benefit From a $12 Minimum Wage

A higher minimum wage would allow workers across Missouri to cope with the rising cost of basic necessities, such as housing, food, transportation, and healthcare. Even in Missouri’s smallest county, Worth County,[6] a single adult needs to make $35,021 per year to afford a modest standard of living, [7] though the yearly income for a full-time worker (40 hours a week) at the current $7.85 minimum wage[8] is only $16,328.  See the appendix for a complete list of counties and estimated number of workers affected.

As Table 2 shows, workers who would benefit from Proposition B represent nearly a quarter of all working Missourians. By 2023, each worker will earn an average of $1,485 more annually.[9] The additional income would not only help working families throughout the state, it would also benefit small businesses and Missouri’s broader economy. Research shows that higher wages lead to increased spending, which, in turn, has the effect of boosting the demand for goods and services[10] and keeping money circulating in the economy—creating a virtuous cycle that benefits a broad constituency.[11]

[table id=20 /]

A Growing Number of Jurisdictions Are Enacting Minimum Wage Increases, Reflecting Continued Concerns With Low Wages and Support for Bold Change

With job growth skewed towards low-paying occupations over the past decade, there has been growing national momentum for action to raise the minimum wage. Although the U.S. median household income is slowly climbing from the depths of the Great Recession,[12] hourly wages continue to stay flat or decline for most of the labor force, even amidst the economic recovery and a full employment economy. The worsening prospects and opportunities for low-wage workers have prompted a growing number of cities, counties, and states to enact higher minimum wage rates for their residents, often with overwhelming support from voters.[13]

The trend in localities and states pushing for higher minimum wage rates is likely to continue as wages decline or stagnate, inequality worsens or remains high, and Congress fails to take bold action to ensure that hard-working individuals can make ends meet.


Raising the minimum wage is one of main tools that states and cities across the country are using to help working families overcome decades of stagnating wages and the rising cost of basic necessities. There is no part of Missouri where workers and families can afford the basis under the state’s current $7.85 minimum wage. Proposition B would bring a much-needed wage increase to nearly 1 in 4 workers in Missouri, and it would directly impact every county in the state.

[1]. Based on a 40-hour workweek at the current Missouri minimum wage of $7.85 per hour. Missouri Department of Labor & Industrial Relations, Minimum Wage, https://labor.mo.gov/DLS/MinimumWage (last viewed Sept. 6, 2018).

[2]. NELP analysis of data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2016 Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW), the Economic Policy Institute and the Current Population Survey. Estimates are not reported for any counties in which private sector wage data are unavailable in the QCEW. Statewide figure provided by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI). State and county estimates of affected workers include both directly and indirectly affected workers. Indirectly affected workers have a wage rate just above the new minimum wage (between the new minimum wage and the new minimum wage plus the dollar amount of the increase in the previous year’s minimum wage). They will receive a raise as employer pay scales are adjusted upward to reflect the new minimum wage. Indirectly affected workers include workers projected to make less than $12.85 in 2023. Consistent with statewide estimates made by EPI, wages are adjusted to reflect “natural” nominal wage growth. For 2016–2019, a rate equal to the average growth rate of the wages of the bottom 20 percent of wage earners in Missouri between 2014 and 2016 is assumed: 2.91 percent. For wage growth after 2019, the assumption is a growth equal to inflation plus 0.5 percent in each year, as projected by the CBO—a total of 3.15 percent in each year. The projected share and number of affected workers in each county is based on the QCEW reported mean weekly wage and an assumed 74 percent ratio between the standard deviation and the reported mean. Projections of hourly wages based on work hours for workers in the lowest wage quintile as estimated by EPI in https://www.epi.org/publication/trends-in-work-hours-and-labor-market-disconnection/.

[3]. Raise Up Missouri analysis of  EPI analysis of Current Population Survey Outgoing Rotation Group microdata (2016) and CBO Economic Projections (June 2017).

[4]. Id. See also supra note 2.

[5]. Kansas City is located in Jackson County, Clay County, Platte County, and Cass County. United States Census Bureau, Stat & County QuickFacts, Kansas City (city), Missouri, https://web.archive.org/web/20130704224536/http://quickfacts.census.gov:80/qfd/states/29/2938000.html (last viewed Sept. 6, 2018). St. Louis City is part of St. Louis County. Stlouis-mo.gov, City Government Structure, https://www.stlouis-mo.gov/government/about/city-government-structure.cfm (last viewed Sept. 6, 2018).

[6]. Worth County has the smallest population by county in Missouri. See Missouri Census Data Center, Population Estimates by Age, https://census.missouri.edu/population-by-age/report.php?s=29&y=2017&d=&a=5b (last viewed Sept. 6, 2018).

[7]. Economic Policy Institute, “Family Budget Calculator,” https://www.epi.org/resources/budget/ (last visited Aug. 26, 2018).

[8]. Missouri Department of Labor & Industrial Relations, Minimum Wage, https://labor.mo.gov/DLS/MinimumWage (last viewed Sept. 6, 2018).

[9]. EPI analysis of Current Population Survey Outgoing Rotation Group microdata (2016) and CBO Economic Projections (June 2017).

[10]. See, e.g., Patrick Reimherr, U.S. Department of Labor: Blog, “Higher Wages, a Stronger Bottom Line and Job Growth,” (Aug. 1, 2014), https://blog.dol.gov/2014/08/01/higher-wages-a-stronger-bottom-line-and-job-growth.

[11]. See, e.g., International Labour Organization, Can Minimum Wages Help Rebalance the Economy? (Aug. 12, 2013),  http://www.ilo.org/newyork/voices-at-work/WCMS_219658/index.htm.

[13]. See, e.g., National Employment Law Project, Fight for $15: Four Years, $62 Billion (Dec. 2016), https://www.nelp.org/wp-content/uploads/Fight-for-15-Four-Years-62-Billion-in-Raises.pdf; National Employment Law Project, New Poll Shows Overwhelming Support for Major Minimum Wage Increase (Jan. 15, 2015), https://www.nelp.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/PR-Federal-Minimum-Wage-Poll-Jan-2015.pdf; National Employment Law Project, Minimum Wage a Big Winner on Election Day (Nov. 2016), https://www.nelp.org/wp-content/uploads/Minimum-Wage-Wins-2016-Elections.pdf.

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About the Author

Laura Huizar

Immigrant Worker Justice Program Director, National Employment Law Project