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St. Louis cutting minimum wage from $10 to $7.70

Posted at 6:21 AM, Jul 07, 2017

(CNN) -- While many cities raised their minimum wage over the past weekend, St. Louis will soon see a 23 percent decrease.

A new Missouri law will go into effect August 28 that will override the city's minimum wage and lower the hourly rate from $10 to $7.70, which is the state's standard.

In 2015, St. Louis passed an ordinance that raised the minimum wage to $10 in May and would've bumped it to $11 in January 2018. This led to a legal battle that wound up in the Missouri Supreme Court -- which the city eventually won. But its victory was short-lived.

The minimum wage issue pitted St. Louis, a blue city, against the red state legislature and governor. The Missouri General Assembly passed a law earlier this year that prohibits local governments from setting a higher minimum wage than what the state requires.

St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson, a Democrat, called its passage in May "a setback for working families."

"The state has preempted cities from enacting laws on many issues, including guns, cold medicine and now our minimum wage," she said in a statement.

Missouri Governor Eric Greitens took a stance in the minimum wage debate, but didn't sign the bill into law. It will go into effect next month regardless.

The Republican governor said the St. Louis ordinance that raised the minimum wage will "kill jobs, and despite what you hear from liberals, it will take money out of people's pockets."

"This increase in the minimum wage might read pretty on paper, but it doesn't work in practice. Government imposes an arbitrary wage, and small businesses either have to cut people's hours or let them go," he said in a statement released last week.

He also cited a recent study in Seattle, which voted in 2014 to gradually hike its minimum wage to $15 an hour.

The study from University of Washington researchers showed that the Seattle wage hike may be hurting low-wage workers. They ultimately made $125 less each month on average, as their hours dropped, the report found. The Washington study has been the center of controversy as liberal groups questioned its methodology.

Greitens didn't sign the bill, because he said didn't like the way that politicians in the legislature "dragged their feet for months" leading to different wages across the state.

"I disapprove of the way politicians handled this. That's why I won't be signing my name to their bill," he said in a statement.

One group, Fight for $15, slammed Greitens in a Facebook post: "Hurting people who have it the hardest isn't just bad governing, it's pathological."

Cynthia Sanders, a janitor wrote in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in June, that "lowering the minimum wage would be unimaginably cruel."

Missouri's $7.70 rate is slightly higher than the federal minimum wage at $7.25 an hour. Congress hasn't raised it in 10 years.

What other cities have passed

The upcoming wage cut in St. Louis presented a stark counterexample to the increasing minimum wage seen across the country.

Last week, the Minneapolis City Council approved a $15 minimum wage by 2024.

And on July 1, many workers -- especially those living in California cities -- got raises over the holiday weekend as minimum wage hikes took effect.

These are the cities, counties and states that got a boost:

Chicago: $11 an hour. Cook County, Illinois: $10 an hour. Emeryville, California: $15.20 an hour for businesses with more than 56 employees, and $14 an hour for businesses with 55 or fewer employees. Flagstaff, Arizona: $10.50 an hour. Los Angeles: $12 an hour for businesses with more than 26 employees, and $10.50 an hour for businesses with 25 or fewer employees. Maryland: $9.25 an hour. Milpitas, California: $11 an hour. Montgomery County, Maryland: $11.50 an hour. Oregon: $10.25 an hour. (Exception: $11.25 an hour in the Portland metro area, and $10 an hour in some counties designated as "non-urban.") Pasadena, California: $12 an hour for businesses with 26 or more employees, and $10.50 an hour or businesses with 25 or fewer employees. San Francisco: $14 an hour. San Jose, California: $12 an hour. San Leandro, California: $12 an hour. Santa Monica, California: $12 an hour for businesses with 26 or more employees, and $10.50 an hour or businesses with 25 or fewer employees. Washington, D.C.: $12.50 an hour.