Minimum Wage Requirements for Employers in Mississippi (MS)

Over strong opposition from Republican Gov. Haley Barbour, the Democrat-controlled state House Labor Committee recently approved a bill to introduce a minimum wage in Mississippi. If passed, House Bill 237 would set the state minimum wage at $6.25 per hour effective July 1, 2007. In the final step of the increase, the state minimum wage would be increased to $7.25 per hour on Jan. 15, 2008.

Minimum wage is in the news in Mississippi with state legislators debating a state minimum wage law, House Bill 237 (HB 237). Currently, Mississippi is one of just 5 states with no minimum wage law. The others are Alabama, Tennessee and South Carolina. A state minimum wage was narrowly defeated in Louisiana, during recent elections. Only one state – Kansas – has a state minimum wage lower than the federal minimum of $5.15 per hour. The state minimum wage in Kansas is $2.65 per hour.

In the states without minimum wage laws, most jobs are covered by the federal minimum wage of $5.15 per hour. For some businesses who don’t conduct interstate commerce, however, there is currently no state minimum wage.

The current HB 237 is sponsored by State Representative Ricky Cummings, a Democrat from Iuka. After two years of research, Cummins has co-sponsored a bill to increase the state minimum wage to $7.25 by early 2008.

“All of government should not be built around large corporations,” Cummings said.

Several business groups, including the Mississippi Economic Council, the Mississippi Manufacturers Association and the National Federation of Independent Businesses, are opposed to the increase. The point out that the proposed state minimum wage is 40% higher than the national base rate of $5.15 per hour.

Many opponents of the bill, including Mississippi Manufacturers Association President Jay Moon, worry that increasing the minimum wage will reduce the number of entry-level jobs and somehow hinder job growth for more skilled workers. They argue that training unskilled employees makes more sense than increasing the minimum wage.

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