• Voters approve annual minimum wage increases in Arkansas

    By: Winnie Wright


    Paying your bills just got a little bit easier in Arkansas – at least for those making minimum wage. 

    Tuesday night, voters in Arkansas approved an increase to the state's minimum wage.

    It's safe to say people in Arkansas are excited over the results on Issue 5; 68 percent of Arkansas residents believe they need a pay raise. 

    Come Jan. 1, those making minimum wage can expect a 75 cent-per-hour increase.

    "I think it's great,” said Barbara Smith. She works at a convenience store in West Memphis. "I think we need an increase in our minimum wage. So, people who work jobs like this can actually make a little more money."

    Arkansas minimum wage employees currently make $8.50 an hour. Under Issue 5, that will be raised to $9.25 per hour on January 1, 2019, $10 an hour in 2020, and $11 per hour in 2021.

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    "We've had it so low all this time like it is,” said Jonesboro resident, Nathaniel Moore. “We could use a little more money."

    The issue was proposed and supported by Arkansans for a Fair Wage. 

    "We could use that around here because there's a depression going on, so I think that will be a big help to the city,” Sammuel Miller said.

    The Arkansas State Chamber Foundation opposed the measure and sued to have it taken off the ballot.

    Their biggest donor, according to filings, was the National Restaurant Association.

    "I think that's a great idea. That might encourage a lot of people to work now. They don't have to beg for it, they can work for it now," said Michael Clark.

    Clark is a small business owner. He said the pay increase won't affect his business. 

    "They're trying to keep it all in their hands. Open your hands, let everybody eat. When the whales kill them up top, the crabs eat on the bottom," Clark said.

    The passing of this issue means Arkansas and also Missouri, who passed a similar issue, will have some of the highest minimum wages in the country. Tennessee and Mississippi's minimum wages are at the federal minimum wage of $7.25.

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