POPLAR BLUFF, Mo. - Would you vote for a minimum wage increase in Missouri, November seventh? The raise would lift the wage from $5.15 an hour to $6.50. Some Poplar Bluff business leaders hope you vote no, saying it would also drive up the unemployment rate.
Chamber of Commerce leaders say the raise would leave small business owners struggling to pay their employees, and unable to hire more people. But other folks who look forward to that raise say chamber leaders don't have a clue.
"A lot of people may think business owners are going to pay for the increase, but the business owner's money comes from the products and services that they sell so the cost would be passed along to the consumer," Eddy Justice, with the Poplar Bluff Area Chamber of Commerce says.
Chamber members are working overtime in many Missouri towns to get you to vote against raising the minimum wage.
Club meetings like rotary gatherings puts them in touch with community leaders. Small business owner Tim Funke hears the message loud and clear. "I don't think the government needs to control this in a free market economy. If you have skills you can earn the pay," Funke says.
Down the hallway from where business leaders gathered, Maggie Nelson worked on her minimum wage job, as a front desk clerk.
"I'm living paycheck to paycheck. My paycheck goes towards buying groceries and bills. I have no extra money to speak of," the forty year old mother of two says. She points out an increase would keep her at her job, instead of looking around for a higher paying gig.
Chamber leaders, she says, just don't understand. "I don't think they have a clue. They don't have to live like the rest of us, paycheck to paycheck," she says.