LITTLE ROCK, AR (News release) - Arkansas’s minimum wage is too low, falling below the federal minimum wage and way behind inflation. According to a new report by Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families (AACF), it’s time for the state to raise the minimum wage, providing a boost to working families and the businesses where they spend their earnings.
Arkansas’s minimum wage is only $6.25 an hour. At the federal level it is $7.25. Arkansas is now one of only nine states that don’t at least match the federal wage (22 states have a minimum wage above the federal level). According to the report, “Paying a Living Wage Will Make Arkansas A Better Place to Live and Work
,” rising prices and inflation have caused the purchasing power of the dollar to drop steadily since the 1960s, making it more and more difficult for working families to stretch minimum wage paychecks.
“If you account for inflation, the federal minimum wage is $3 less today than it was in 1968. And that’s the federal minimum wage. Arkansas’s is even lower,” says Rich Huddleston, executive director of AACF. “Arkansas is supposed to be a land of opportunity where hard work is rewarded. By any standard, the minimum wage today is not enough for a family to make ends meet.”
Huddleston says raising the Arkansas minimum wage would put money into the hands of hard working Arkansans who will spend it on the things they need, mostly in the local communities in which they work and live. Raising the Arkansas minimum wage would help ensure an economy that works for all of us.
If the ballot initiative to increase the Arkansas minimum wage from $6.25 to $8.50 passes in November, 168,074 Arkansas workers, or 15 percent of the Arkansas workforce, would benefit from increasing the wage. Of those who would see an increased wage:
- 85 percent are age 20 and up.
- A majority (92,365 workers, or 54 percent) are full-time workers.
- 85 percent work 20 hours or more per week.
Eleanor Wheeler, senior policy analyst at AACF and the author of the report, say a bump in the minimum wage doesn’t just help workers, but their kids as well.
“One in 10 kids has a parent that will see their wages increase,” Wheeler says. “That’s something people don’t often think about in this debate. More broadly, we know our economy is stronger when we reward an honest day’s work with an honest wage.”
Wheeler says a higher minimum wage would mean more customers for local businesses. A modest increase in the minimum wage will increase consumer demand, thereby creating jobs due to increased consumer spending. In the long run, fair wages minimize employee turnover, maximize employee productivity, improve product quality, and increase worker commitment and loyalty. That is why many business leaders across the country support raising the minimum wage or paying their workers more than just the minimum.