RELEASE: Data Shows Missouri Minimum Wage Isn’t Enough For Workers

Hands opening a wallet but no money is inside.

Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Numerical and anecdotal data make it clear – $12 isn’t cutting it

Columbia, MO – Missouri workers are struggling to make ends meet on the $12 minimum wage.

“$12 an hour simply doesn’t cut it when it comes to trying to meet my family’s needs,” said Kaamilya Hobbs, an Arby’s employee from Kansas City. “I gave birth to my second child in September, and while I should’ve been focused on my health as a high-risk pregnant woman, my boyfriend and I were scrambling to find another place to live because we got evicted by a slumlord who didn’t care about us. No one should have to struggle to pay for food, medical bills, clothing, and other needs.”

The evidence isn’t purely anecdotal. According to the Economic Policy Institute, a single-person household in the Kansas City metropolitan area needs an annual income of $37,214 to afford a “modest yet adequate standard of living.” For comparison, a full-time employee making $12 an hour – and taking no sick days or vacations for a full year – would only clear $24,960. For a family of four like Hobbs’, child care, housing and food costs drastically inflate that number: two adults and two kids would require an annual income of $85,544 for the same “modest yet adequate standard of living.”

Screenshots showing monthly cost breakdowns for 1 adult and no children. 2 adults and 2 children. In Kansas City.

On the other side of the state, living costs are slightly lower, but still high enough to keep minimum wage earners out of an “adequate” standard of living. The EPI reports a single-person household in the St. Louis metropolitan area would need an annual income of $35,144 and a family of four would need $80,992 to maintain an adequate standard of living.

Screenshots showing monthly cost breakdowns for 1 adult and no children. 2 adults and 2 children. In St. Louis.

To make matters worse, the EPI’s calculator uses data from 2020. Nearly four years later, costs have gone up. For example, EPI allocates $731 a month for rent in Kansas City, but a December 2023 report says median rent in the city is $997 – and that’s a decrease from November 2023.

While Missouri plans to increase the minimum wage to $12.30 in 2024, the change will only increase a single-person’s annual income to $25,584, still nearly $10,000 short of EPI’s lowest estimated necessary income.