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Missouri Petitions to Raise Minimum Wage

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- What's the national minimum wage? If you're, say, one of three Republican candidates running in Missouri's U.S. Senate primary, you might be hard-pressed to remember it (it's $7.25).

But if you're one of about 173,000 people living in Missouri, you can probably rattle it off the top of your head. That's the number of people in Missouri -- enough signatures to put the measure on the November ballot -- who signed a petition to raise the state's minimum wage from the national average per hour to $8.25 in 2013, and provide for cost-of-living adjustments in the future.

The measure would also require that employees who earn tips receive 60 percent of the state minimum wage, up from the current 50 percent. And if the federal minimum wage rises above the state rate, then Missouri would adopt the federal wage and apply cost-of-living adjustments to that.

There's a good chance that the measure will pass. Missouri Jobs with Justice, a backer of the minimum wage proposal, supported a successful campaign in 2006 to approve a ballot measure that raised Missouri's minimum wage to $6.50, with adjusted cost-of-living increases.

But not everyone is in favor of it. Some critics of the change says the ballot summaries and cost estimates for the proposals are unfair.

Many economists maintain that raising the minimum wage can negatively impact employment numbers, especially among teenagers and young workers. Scott Brown, chief economist at Raymond James Equity Research, in St. Petersburg, Fla., said that he does not think the Missouri situation would cause any problems. "It's probably not going to matter much," he said. "The typical concern is that it will lead to less-entry level jobs for young people. That's the fear. But again -- what's the going wage and what are the typical starting salaries in an office or fast food? Very often those are well above the minimum wage in some areas."

On its website, the U.S. Department of Labor lists the states whose minimum wage is above the national average, below, the same -- or doesn't have a minimum wage law. (23 states have a minimum wage at the federal level of $7.25.)

Here's the top states with the highest minimum wages:

1. Washington

$9.04

2. Oregon

$8.80

3. Vermont

$8.46

4. Nevada, Connecticut, Illinois

$8.25

Here are the bottom states with the lowest minimum:


47. Arkansas

$6.25

(Applicable to employers of 4 or more)

48. Georgia

$5.15

49. Minnesota

Small employer (enterprise with annual receipts of less than $625,000) $5.25

Large employer (enterprise with annual receipts of $625,000 or more) $6.15

50. Wyoming

$5.15

(Applicable to employers of 4 or more employees)

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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