Missouri among handful of states to increase minimum wage

KENNETT, MO (KAIT) - Minimum wage workers in Missouri will soon get a bigger paycheck.

These employees will see a pay increase from $7.35/hour to $7.50/hour. Those who work a typical eight-hour day will make $1.20 more a day, about an extra $300 per year.

However, minimum wage for waitresses is different since tips are calculated into their salary.

Waitresses at John's Waffle and Pancake House in Kennett will see a pay increase from $3.25 to $3.75 plus tips, but one waitress said that is still not enough.

"Tips average. You may pick up $10, you may pick up a dollar, you may pick up nothing. You never know," waitress Ashley Estes said. "Some days I make minimum wage, some days I make more, some days I make less, sometimes I make way less. It just depends."

Estes has been a waitress for the past 13 years and said this uncertainty makes it difficult to keep up with the growing cost of living.

"The rate of pay that you're receiving for whatever your job is, wherever you work, should be enough to not have to live payday to payday. To not have to stretch every week, working every day to make ends meet," Estes said.

Her husband also works as a farmer to support their two kids.

"I'm not struggling, but I'm not living large either. It's still week to week. You pay your bills every week and you live off what's left over. That's just how it is," Estes said.

Estes said it was even harder when she earned a two-dollar minimum wage seven years ago. 

"So the fact that seven years later, I'm making $3.25 shows minimum wage has increased hardly any for a waitress," Estes said.

However, Estes said waitressing is about more than money. It's about customers like Melvin Risner, one of the restaurant's regulars for the past 25 years. 

"I knew them ever since they were barely old enough to walk. They're really a good family. I feel like a fixture sometimes, but I enjoy it and will continue coming," Risner said. 

"That's what this job's always been about. I've worked as a waitress since I was 14 years old and you make bonds with your customers. Half of them I know by name and if I don't know their name, I know what they're drinking, know what they're eating before you order. And it's more than that. We share holidays together. It almost feels like you're part of a family. Just not my co-workers, but your customers," Estes said. 

Missouri is one of 13 states to see a minimum wage increase. The changes will take effect Jan. 1.

Copyright 2013 KAIT. All rights reserved.