Prices rise as minimum wage increases in several US states

JEFFERSON CITY, Missouri (AP) – At Granny Shaffer’s restaurant in Joplin, Missouri, owner Mike Wiggins is reprinting the menus to reflect the five, 10 or 20 cents added to each item.

A two-egg breakfast will cost an extra dime, at USD7.39. The price of a three-piece fried chicken dinner will go up 20 cents, to USD8.78. The reason: Missouri’s minimum wage is rising.

Wiggins said the price hikes are necessary to help offset an estimated USD10,000 to USD12,000 in additional annual pay to his staff as a result of a new minimum wage law taking effect today.

“For us it’s very simple. There’s no big pot of money out there to get the money out for the required pay raises,” Wiggins said.

New minimum wage requirements will take effect in 20 states and nearly two dozen cities around the start of the new year, affecting millions of workers.

The state wage hikes range from an extra nickel per hour in Alaska to a USD1-an-hour bump in Maine, Massachusetts and for California employers with more than 25 workers.

Seattle’s largest employers will have to pay workers at least USD16 an hour starting today.

In New York City, many businesses will have to pay at least USD15 an hour as of yesterday.

That’s more than twice the federal minimum of USD7.25 an hour.

A variety of other new state laws also take effect today.

Those include revisions to harassment policies stemming from the #MeToo movement, restrictions on gun sales following deadly mass shootings and revamped criminal penalties as officials readjust the balance between punishment and rehabilitation.

The state and local wage laws come amid a multi-year push by unions and liberal advocacy groups to raise the minimum wage to USD15 an hour nationwide. Few are there yet, but many states have ratcheted up wages through phased-in laws and adjustments for inflation.

In Arkansas and Missouri, voters this fall approved ballot initiatives raising the minimum wage after state legislators did not. In Missouri, the minimum wage will rise from USD7.85 to USD8.60 an hour today as the first of five annual increases that will take it to USD12 an hour by 2023.

At Granny Shafffer’s in Joplin, waitress Shawna Green will see her base pay go up. But she has mixed emotions about it.

“We’ll have regulars, and they will notice, and they will bring it to our attention, like it’s our fault and our doings” that menu prices are increasing, she said. “They’ll back off on something, and it’s usually their tips, or they don’t come as often.”