In Arkansas, the minimum wage will gradually rise from $8.50 an hour now to $11 in 2021.
The midterm election brought fewer increases than the balloting of two years ago, when five initiatives mandated pay hikes.
The federal minimum wage hasn't seen an increase since 2009, when it rose from $6.55 to $7.25 an hour. However, the minimum wage has been the subject of much debate within the Missouri legislature for the last several years. Neither measure will affect restaurant workers, such as servers, who receive the tipped minimum wage (in Missouri, the tipped minimum is $3.92 per hour; in Arkansas, it's $2.63), though it will certainly effect low-wage workers, including many in the fast-food industry who have been vocal about the need for a living wage. Voters in Missouri approved the bill that will increase the minimum wage to $8.60 an hour in 2019.
The minimum wage will now rise from $7.85 to $8.60 an hour starting January 1, and will go up 85 cents a year until 2023, when it hits $12 an hour, with cost-of-living increases kicking in annually after that. Republicans control both chambers of the Arkansas statehouse and occupy the governor's mansion.
As predicted, Missouri voters turned out in record numbers for the 2018 general election yesterday and overwhelmingly voted to pass Proposition B: The $12 Minimum Wage Initiative. Back in 2014 four states approved minimum wage ballot measures followed soon after by four others in 2016. The raise will lift wages for about 677,000 workers, according an analysis from the National Employment Law Project. Arkansans for a Fair Wage took in more than $1.4 million in contributions, the bulk of that money from the D.C. -based Sixteen Thirty Fund. The state Supreme Court unanimously rejected that claim in October. While Republican lawmakers typically argue against a higher minimum wage on the grounds it could make businesses less competitive, the issue is gaining support among voters, with a majority of both Republicans and Democrats saying they believe the federal baseline wage of $7.25 an hour should be higher.
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