KCMO businesses encouraged to join Living Wage Registry

The City of Kansas City, Missouri, has created a Living Wage Registry that highlights employers who choose to help raise living standards for their employees by paying wages higher than the national and state minimums.

City councilmembers got their first look at the registry during Thursday’s Business Session. Businesses that register will receive a distinctive sticker that can be prominently displayed for their customers and employees.

“K.C. is a city with a big heart,” Councilwoman Katheryn Shields said. “This program is designed to recognize the many businesses that voluntarily pay a living wage to their employees. Each knows their company’s greatest asset is their employees.”

KCMO voters last August approved a measure to set the City’s minimum wage at $10 an hour, gradually increasing to $15 per hour by 2022. The roadblock to that measure, however, is that state law prohibits cities from creating a minimum wage different than the one used in the rest of Missouri.

“State law preempted the City from implementing legislation increasing the minimum wage,” Councilman Jermaine Reed said. “I applaud employers who voluntarily agree to comply with the legislation.  These employers have made a commitment to invest in their workers despite the overreach of the state legislature.”

The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour, while the state minimum wage is $7.85 an hour. Employers engaged in retail or service businesses with annual gross income below $500,000 are not required to pay the state minimum wage.

“We believe a higher minimum wage gets us considerably closer to achieving a living wage and makes it easier for employees to take care of themselves and their families,” City Manager Troy Schulte said. “With this registry, we want to show our appreciation for the businesses who share our belief and, hopefully, it’ll catch on all over the City.”

A living wage is the minimum income necessary for workers to meet their basic needs, which include food, housing and other essential needs such as clothing. The goal is to allow a worker to afford a basic but decent standard of living. The flexible nature of the term ‘needs’ means there is no universally accepted measure of what a living wage is so it varies by location and household type.

The living wage differs from the minimum wage in that the latter is set by national law and can fail to meet the requirements to have a basic quality of life, leaving the family to rely on government assistance. In economic terms, the living wage is similar to the minimum wage as it is a price floor for labor. It differs from basic needs in that the basic needs model usually measures a minimum level of consumption, without regard for the source of the income.

During the City Council debate last spring about the minimum wage, the City looked at its own employee pay. All City employees make at least $10 an hour.

The registry will be administered by the City Clerk’s Office. Questions about the registry can be directed to 816-513-3360.

For more information, please contact Chris Hernandez, City Communications Director, at 816-513-3474.

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