Today, employers in St. Louis, Missouri, are no longer required to pay their employees the city’s minimum wage rate of $10.00 per hour. The reason they can reduce employee pay is state legislators passed a law earlier this year that overrides all city and county minimum wage ordinances.
St. Louis workers saw an increase in the minimum wage in May. But now employers are free to reduce the pay for those workers to $7.70 per hour, the state minimum wage which is set to increase annually based on the cost of living.
Iowa was the first state to take away worker pay via preemption legislation. In March the Iowa state Senate passed a law that voided local minimum wage ordinances. Employees making minimum wage in three counties, Linn, Polk, and Wapello, went from over $8.00 per hour back to a frozen state minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. Johnson County, Iowa, had a minimum wage of $10.10 per hour and encourages employers to voluntarily stay with the county rate, even though it is no longer enforceable.
Just over half of all states have passed this type of law, which limits localities from adjusting the minimum wage to better correspond to the cost of living in their areas. The cost of living in cities is often higher than in rural areas. Adjusting minimum wage rates to better align with the cost of living in those areas can help workers better afford essentials like food, housing, and healthcare.
Proponents of state preemption laws, like the Missouri Chamber of Commerce, argue that local ordinances create challenges for businesses that have to comply with varying minimum wage rates across the state. Additionally, the long-standing debate on raising minimum wage rates comes into play. Preemption advocates cite business hardships in meeting rising minimum wage requirements.
For more information on the minimum wage in your area, check with your state’s department of labor.