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Central Standard

Kansas Citians Say The Minimum Wage Is 'Not Enough'

Caroline Kull

We wanted to know how Kansas Citians feel about a proposal to raise the minimum wage in Kansas City to $10 an hour, so we took to the streets.

We talked to folks at the Country Club Plaza, Troost Avenue and Westport and asked, “What’s your minimum wage story?”  

Most of the people we talked to were in favor of an increase.

“It’s really not enough,” said Emmitt Fennell, a retiree who used to work as a cook.

He said he’s always earned more than the minimum wage, but he watched his lower-paid co-workers struggle.

“For the time and the work you put in, to get seven or eight dollars an hour?” he said. “If you support a family, you can’t live off of that.”

Several business owners were supportive of a wage increase — at least a modest one.

Janet Bloom, a Kansas City tea shop owner, said she already pays her workers above the minimum wage.

“Ten dollars would be hard, but it would be doable,” said Bloom, owner of Tea Drops. “I think 15 would close a lot of small businesses.”

But Tiffany Randolph, a Kansas City seamstress, doesn’t see the minimum wage as a problem the city should solve.

“I worked at McDonald’s as a child, so I understand,” Randolph said. “But if that is not the rate that you wish to be paid, you should apply yourself a little harder out here in this life and find something that suits you a little bit better than McDonald’s.”

 Other Kansas City workers argued that an increase to $10 an hour still is not enough.

“At a $10 per hour job, 40 to 50 hours a week, you will not qualify to rent an apartment,” said Vince Day, who works as a cook at the Peanut in Kansas City. “I mean, the wages haven’t changed since I was a kid. I made more money 20 years ago than I make now.”

Also being floated is an increased minimum wage to $15 an hour. 

Tell KCUR is part of an initiative to engage the community and shine a light on your experiences and opinions. We’ll ask a new question every week and then share your feedback on the air and online. Check out our arsenal of questions and your answers


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