Missouri minimum wage rises, impacts workers and consumers in Branson

BRANSON, Mo. -- Thousands of workers in Missouri are making a little more money, thanks to the minimum wage going up.

As of January 1, 2020, the minimum wage is at $9.45 per hour.

"Tourism is the number one industry in Branson, hands down," Branson Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce President Jeff Seifried said.

Some workers who help run the businesses along Branson's 76 West Country Boulevard won't see a change in pay.

"In Branson, for years, we have paid considerably more than minimum wage," Myer Hotels VP of Operations Gail Myer said.

Myer runs Myer Hotels. He says the market has already dictated a wage well above $9.45 for his employees.

"Part of it is demand. We create jobs and we need folks to fill them," Myer said.

However, other entry-level workers who help staff area attractions like mini-golf and go-karts could get a boost in pay.

"If you're a small business and you have seasonal labor and you hire high school students, this is probably going to impact you significantly over the next couple of years," Seifried said.

So, from restaurants to entertainment, workers throughout Branson will be impacted differently, but some say prices for all everyone could go up.

"Everything goes up with it. So, what have we really done?" Branson Salvation Army Captain Linda McCormick

McCormick says the new wage won't cover costs for an average Branson family.

"No, it still won't be enough. Especially, if they're living in an extended stay which is a little more expensive in the long run," McCormick said.

However, local business experts say the extra expenses for employers could mean customers end up paying more.

"Over the next couple of years, some businesses may be forced to raise their prices, especially some of the seasonal businesses that are more reliant on those first year workers," Seifried said.

While the state wage will continue to rise each year until 2023, some business owners aren't convinced it's going to help people who live here.

"It's a slippery slope. It's a lot better if, organically, we create jobs and we let the marketplace increase folks' wages," Myer said.

In 2021, Missouri's minimum wage rises to $10.30 per hour.