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Everything You Need to Know About Minimum Wage in Missouri

October 14, 2020

*** Click on the link to learn more about CDS in Missouri.   


The minimum wage in Missouri is on the rise, after recent ballot initiatives. 


In this article, we will discuss all you need to know about the Missouri minimum wage. 


You can expect to learn the following.


  • The current minimum wage in Missouri
  • What you need to do if you think your employer is not paying you the minimum wage
  • If service industry workers make the minimum wage in Missouri
  • 5 jobs in Missouri that pay more than minimum wage (even if you don’t have a degree)


Let’s start with a little background on the current minimum wage.


What you need to know about the Missouri minimum wage


Both the federal government and the state of Missouri have set clear guidelines when it comes to minimum compensation for employees.


Unfortunately, some employers take advantage of employees who aren’t familiar with the laws, and try to pay less than the minimum requirements.


The goal of this article is to equip you with all the necessary information to make sure that at the very least you always get paid according to state and federal regulations.


Here’s the bottom line.


Regardless of whether you’re salaried, hourly wage earners, working on commission, or if you earn tips as a server, under federal and state law, your total pay for the workweek  must meet or exceed the federal minimum wage.


The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) sets the minimum wage in the United States, which has been $7.25 since 2009.


States and localities can set their own wage laws, but employers typically have to pay the higher of the wages, whether it is state, local, or federal. 


In 2020, the minimum wage in Missouri is $9.45 per hour, as we will discuss in further detail below.

Recent history of minimum wage in Missouri


Since 2016, the minimum wage in Missouri has been going up steadily, but the most significant jump happened in 2019. And the minimum wage is set to keep rising till 2023.


Let’s take a quick look at the recent history.


  • 2015 - $7.65
  • 2016 - $7.65
  • 2017 - $7.70
  • 2018 - $7.85
  • 2019 - $8.60
  • 2020 - $9.45


The increase in 2019 happened due to voters passing Proposition B in 2018.


Proposition B: $12 Minimum Wage Initiative


Recently, various states across the country have been taking an initiative to solve the issue of income inequality in their respective economies.


In many parts of the country, the low-income earners have barely seen any increase in their incomes in recent times even though the economy has been thriving and corporate profits have been going up steadily.


In Missouri, Proposition B, a $12 per hour statewide minimum wage initiative, was put on the ballot on Nov 6, 2018 to address this issue of income inequality.


The law would gradually increase the minimum wage from $7.85 in 2018 to $12.00 by 20213.


Voters in Missouri approved the ballot initiative and the law went into effect on January 1, 2019, increasing the Missouri minimum wage to $8.60, the biggest jump in years.


Is the Missouri minimum wage going up?


From 2019 onward, the minimum wage was set to increase by $0.85 each year.


  • 2019 - $8.60
  • 2020 - $9.45
  • 2021 - $10.30
  • 2022 - $11.15
  • 2023 - $12.00


According to the National Employment Law Project, an advocacy group that supported the ballot, this new increase in wages will benefit around 677,000 workers in the state of Missouri. 


That number includes approximately 36,000 seniors who have to work past the retirement age to make ends meet.


After 2023, the minimum wage will increase according to the Consumer Price Index (CPI).


The CPI is a metric that measures the periodic change in prices that you pay for a necessary and basic basket of goods (food, clothing, shelter, transport, medical expenses, etc.).


Do servers make minimum wage in Missouri?


If you work as a server and earn tips (gratuities), then the following rules may apply to you, and your employer.


First, your hourly earnings must equal the state minimum wage ($9.45 in 2020).


So, that means that while your employer doesn’t have to pay you $9.45 per hour, your total earnings, which includes tips and hourly wages, must equal at least the current year minimum wage.


Second, your hourly wage as someone earning tips has to be at least half the state required minimum wage.


So, in 2020, since the minimum wage is $9.45, your hourly can't be lower than $4.73.


But in very specific cases, employers can be exempt from the minimum wage regulations in Missouri.


Retail and service businesses with less than $500,000 annual gross sales are not required to pay the $9.45 (in 2020) minimum wage. In that case, the employer may pay you a wage that you both mutually agree to. 


What should you do if you are not being paid minimum wage?


There are a couple of things to consider here.


  1. How do you know if you’re being paid less than minimum wage
  2. Does your employer do less than $500,000 per year in gross sales?


Are you being paid less than minimum wage?


The most obvious case would be where you don’t work in the retail or service business, and your employer is paying you less than $9.45 per hour (2020).


In that case, you’re definitely being paid less than you should earn, and you should bring it up to your employer (more on that below).


But there could be other instances that aren’t so cut and dry.


For example, you could be salaried, and your salary meets the minimum wage requirement on paper. So, your weekly wages are $378 or more (40 hours X $9.45).


But maybe you’re consistently working more than 40 hours per week, and your average effective weekly wages always fall below the minimum amount.


Another example could be that you work in a restaurant, and your tips get pooled and divided among all the staff. And when it’s all said and done, maybe your effective hourly rate is less than $9.45.


Is your employer exempt?


As we mentioned before, if you work in a retail or service business, and your employer does less than half a million dollars in gross sales (this is not profit, just total sales before any expenses), then they are exempt from wage regulations.


So, in this case, if you’re not happy with your wages, you can negotiate with your employer for a raise. 


Otherwise, it might be best to find another job with a company that would fall under the category where they have to comply with the regulations.


What to do?


In the event you come to realize that your hourly wages are effectively falling below the minimum requirements, and your employer isn’t exempt, there are a few options at your disposal.


1. Bring it up with your employer


The first thing to do would be to bring it up with your employer. It is possible that your employer does not realize how much time you’re putting in, and that you’re not making minimum wage.


Ideally, you can resolve the situation. You either get a raise, or your workload gets reduced to the point where you’re effectively making at least the current minimum wage. 


Depending on how long you’ve been underpaid, you shouldn’t be afraid to ask for back pay if the amount is significant.


2. Find another job


If you feel that you’re not going to be able to come to an agreement with your employer to get paid what you’re owed, then you should look for another job.


But that doesn’t mean you should let your previous employer off the hook if they are unwilling to cooperate.


Which brings us to the third option, which is to speak to a minimum wage attorney in Missouri.


3. Consult with a minimum wage attorney in Missouri


You deserve to be paid for the work you’ve done in compliance with federal and state law. There’s no questions about it.


If your employer fails to see it that way, then unfortunately, it might be time to consult with an attorney.


Depending on where you live in Missouri, there might be better options in your locality, but here are a couple of reputed wage attorneys in St. Louis. 


a. Cyrus Dashtaki - Dashtaki Law Firm

b. Burger Law

5 jobs in MO (without college degree) that pays more than minimum wage


First of all, there is nothing wrong if you are working a job that pays minimum wage. And that is why we wanted to present all the facts about the minimum wage in MO, so that you know the compensation that your employer owes you by law.


But the good news is that you don’t have to work a minimum wage job forever if you don’t want to. And that’s increasingly true, even if you don’t have any official educational qualifications like a college degree.


Let’s explore five things you can do in Missouri (or remotely) that can pay more than minimum wage.


1. Personal Care Assistant (PCA) through Missouri Medicaid


You can earn more than minimum wage in Missouri as a personal care assistant (PCA) through the Consumer Directed Services (CDS) program.


CDS is a program through Missouri State’s Medicaid designed to assist people living with physical disabilities in MO.


The program lets care recipients hire and self direct caregivers. If they qualify for Medicaid, they’re allowed to hire friends and family to provide care.


If there’s someone in your family or community that needs help with daily living activities due to a disability, then you might be able to provide care for them, and get compensated through Medicaid.


For more information, including eligibility requirements, how it works, and more, be sure to check out our in-depth guide on the Consumer Directed Services (CDS) program.


2. Dog Walker


One of the simplest (and funnest) jobs that pays more the minimum wage. 


Dogs need to walk. A lot. At least a lot more than most dog owners have time for. Offer to solve this problem for people in your family, social circle, or even your neighborhood.


On average, you should be able to charge around $20 per hour for private walks (1 dog). 


If you’re walking a bunch of dogs at once, you can charge less per dog, but actually end up making way more.


3. Freelance Writer


You can earn significantly more than minimum wage as a freelance writer. And no, you don’t need a degree in literature, English, or anything else.


As long as you can write grammatically correct English that is conversational, and easy to read, you can earn a living as a freelance writer.


Think about it. Almost every single company has a blog. And somebody is getting paid to write them. It could very well be you.


If you have no idea how to get started, or what to do, check out this guide.


4. Bartender/Waiter


If you pick the right bartending or waiting job, then you can make more than minimum wage, even if you’re earning primarily from tips.


The key here is to try and get a job at the more busy and expensive restaurants or bars. Think steakhouses in downtown St. Louis or Kansas City. Or similar establishments.


Of course, the competition for those jobs is going to be steep. But the good news is that you don’t need a degree, and you can work to make the right connections.


If you don’t have any service industry experience, then you can start off at less lucrative positions in the beginning. 


As you gain more experience, and make connections in the industry, you’ll find that within a relatively short period you’re able to find better paying opportunities.


5. Web Development


This is more of a long term option, but by far one of the most lucrative career options that does not always require a college degree.


As you may have heard, there is a nationwide shortage of skilled programmers, and many companies are more than willing to hire web developers without degrees, as long as you can prove that you know what you’re doing.


In fact, the demand is so great, Google recently launched a certification course to help more people take advantage of the opportunities in tech. 


Besides Google, there are plenty of affordable resources online where you can learn how to start coding. Codecademy, Treehouse, and Udacity are only a few examples. 


Of course, there’s plenty of tutorials on YouTube as well.


The caveat here is that you shouldn’t expect to get a job as a programmer in a matter of weeks, or even a couple of months.


But if you can put in the time to learn web development, you’ll not only earn a lot more than minimum wage, but you’ll also most likely never be out of options for employment moving forward.

Final thoughts on Missouri minimum wage


By now, you should have a good understanding about the current minimum wage regulations in Missouri.


You should also have an idea of what your rights are, and what you can do if your employer is refusing to stick to federal and/or state minimums.


But of course, the minimum wage is only meant to be a start. You don’t need to settle for earning minimum wage, even if you don’t have a college degree.


Take some time today to list your skills and interests to see if one of the five job ideas that pay more than the minimum wage is feasible for you in 2021 and beyond.