Talk Business & Politics: Minimum wage rules go into effect today, Arkansas workers get 75 cent raise in 2019

By Wesley Brown
Talk Business & Politics, Jan 1, 2018

As the new year gets underway, many Arkansans will be among the millions of workers across the U.S. getting a wage hike ...

In Arkansas, voters overwhelmingly supported Issue 5 during the Nov. 6 election, approving a 75 cent per hour wage hike from last year’s $8.50 an hour for many workers across the state. Under the initiated act that was supported by the Business for a Fair Minimum Wage coalition and other progressive groups across the state, that standard will then rise to $10 in 2020 and $11 in 2021.

As New Year payrolls go into effect, the statewide business coalition cheered the incremental wage standards, saying they will boost consumer spending, reduce costly employee turnover, increase productivity and customer satisfaction, and help the economy.

“I’ve seen firsthand how paying fair wages has been good for my business. Our low turnover is invaluable when it comes to our customer service and our bottom line,” said Capi Peck, owner of Trio’s Restaurant in Little Rock. “I’m looking forward to seeing the larger beneficial effects for Arkansas as increasing the minimum wage gives needed raises to workers who will then have more to spend as customers at businesses in their communities.”

In Northwest and Northeast Arkansas, other members of the business coalition gave similar rave reviews for the initiated act that officially received 605,784 votes in support of Issue No. 5, which represented nearly 68.5% of the 870,484 votes cast for or against the referendum.

“Arkansans strongly supported the ballot measure to raise the minimum wage, knowing it would be a win-win for working families and businesses,” said Steve Svendson, owner of Svendson Agency in Rogers. “When people earn more as employees, they are able to spend more as customers. And I know from experience that businesses built with fair pay have happier employees and happier customers. That’s a formula for success.”

Added Meg Sebastian, CEO of Sebastian Tech Solutions in Jonesboro: “In raising the minimum wage, Arkansas is telling working people, ‘Stay here, work here, succeed here.’ If we want Arkansas to have more STEM jobs and encourage companies to invest and reinvest in our state for the long term, we need a strong, productive workforce. Raising the minimum wage is an essential element in achieving that.” ...

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