Report: Study shows state employees in Missouri are the lowest paid

State-employed workers in Missouri are among the lowest paid in the country, which may lead to turn-overs and, in some cases, employment disputes.

Most people who are employed work in order to provide for themselves and their families. According to the Missouri Department of Labor, the minimum wage that employers must pay their workers in the state is $7.65 for each hour worked. While they generally earn more than minimum wage, state-employed workers still do not receive competitive pay, according to a recently reported study.

Reviewing compensation practices

The state of Missouri engaged CBIZ Human Capital Services, an outside group, to review the compensation of workers who are employed by the state. This includes social service workers and prison guards, among others. According to the state's Compensation and Benefits Study Report, CBIZ conducted a market analysis of the benefits, base salary and total cash compensation, and examined the market-competitive benefits levels.

The study found that the pay earned by 37,906 state employees is well below what is considered competitive. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the average annual earnings for Missouri state workers, when adjusting for the national scale, is $39,682. This is the lowest in the nation. Depending on how many hours they are putting in, whether they are salary or hourly workers, and numerous other factors, these low compensation rates could lead to wage and hour disputes between employers and workers.

Causes of compensation incongruities

There are numerous factors that contribute to the compensation disparities between Missouri and the rest of the country. One of the most significant of these is the fact that state law does not permit compensation rates for state-employed workers to be adjusted based on geography. For example, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch points out that a salary of $44,000 per year could be reduced to $40,260 in Ripley County and still remain competitive. However, that same $44,000 per year salary would have to be increased to $46,037 to be current with the market in St. Louis. Not adjusting the rates could mean some workers are not being adequately compensated for their time, which may lead to employment disputes or turn-over.

Steps toward a solution

In an effort to retain its workers, the state has taken some steps to improve its compensation practices. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that the 2016 budget included funding for a two percent wage increase for state employees. However, this was not enough to bridge the gap between Missouri and other states' compensation rates. The hope is that the recent study will be able to be used to help develop a plan that establishes more competitive pay for time worked and salaries.

Whether employed by the state or a public company, wage and hour disputes may present a range of challenges for Missouri workers. Therefore, those who believe they are not being paid in accordance with the state's laws or feel their rights have otherwise been violated in the workplace may benefit from seeking legal counsel. A lawyer may explain their rights and options, and help them determine if it might be appropriate to take legal action.