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Arkansans Could Raise Their State’s Minimum Wage to $11 in 2021

by Countable | Updated on 10.15.18

Arkansas voters will weigh in on whether to gradually raise their state’s minimum wage from $8.50 an hour to $11 an hour in 2021.

What the Initiative Does

Issue 5 would incrementally raise Arkansas’ minimum wage to $11 an hour by 2021 as follows:

  • January 1, 2019: $9.25 an hour,
  • January 1, 2020: $10.00 an hour,
  • January 1, 2021: $11.00 an hour.

Argument in Favor

Arkansas’ current $8.50 an hour minimum wage makes it very difficult for workers at that income level to get by, especially if they’re raising a family. Gradually raising the minimum to $11 an hour in 2021 makes sense.

Argument Against

Raising the minimum wage will reduce the job opportunities available to low wage workers, as higher hourly wages will make it more likely that employers scale back their workers’ hours or pursue automation.

In-Depth

Arkansans for a Fair Wage is leading the campaign supporting Issue 5 with the support of The Sixteen Thirty Fund, The Fairness Project, and the National Employment Law Project. Arkansans for a Fair Wage says:

“Arkansans for a Fair Wage worked to get this initiative, which will raise the minimum wage to $11 by 2021, on the ballot because the cost of groceries, housing and other basics has gone up for years, but wages haven't come close to keeping up. We believe that no one who works full time should have to live in poverty and struggle to make ends meet for his or her family. This initiative will help classroom aides, home health care workers, custodians, and other hardworking people, and it will ensure that all Arkansans are paid enough to live and take care of their families. Since 2009, 29 states, including Arkansas, have implemented a minimum wage increase and in all of those states unemployment has gone down while paychecks have gone up. This initiative has broad support across the state because most voters understand that raising the minimum wage rewards hard work and unlocks opportunity for Arkansas families."

Arkansans for a Strong Economy, which is leading the opposition to Issue 5, says:

"Implementing a minimum wage hike, when our state's minimum wage is already higher than all of our surrounding states, would hurt the Arkansas economy. The only other states with a minimum wage at or above $11 per hour, as this measure proposes, are California, Washington state, Washington, D.C., and Massachusetts. A mandatory increase like this one may actually wind up costing jobs, increasing prices for consumers, reducing hours for workers, and causing many of our small businesses to struggle to stay afloat."

Four years ago, Arkansas voters approved the 2014 iteration of Issue 5, a ballot initiative that gradually raised the state’s minimum wage from $6.25 to $7.25 in 2015, $8 in 2016, and $8.50 in 2017. The current federal minimum wage is $7.25.

This initiative was placed on the ballot after more than 84,000 signatures were submitted.


Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / YvanDube)

Countable

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