By Payroll and Entitlements Editorial Staff
The mid-term elections have ushered in a wage boost for workers in Arkansas and Missouri. Voters approved ballot initiatives that will raise the minimum wage in Arkansas from its current $8.50 an hour to $11.00 an hour in 2021. In Missouri, voters gave the go-ahead to increase the state minimum wage of $7.85 an hour to $12.00 an hour by 2023.
Arkansas. Voters in Arkansas approved Issue No. 5 by a wide margin of 68.44 percent to 31.56 percent, according to the unofficial election results. Under the measure, the $8.50 minimum wage would increase to $9.25 an hour on January 1, 2019; to $10.00 an hour on January 1, 2020; and to $11.00 an hour on January 1, 2021.
Assuming the now-approved initiative becomes law, 300,000 low-wage workers in Arkansas will benefit—nearly 25 percent of the state’s workforce will be better off financially, according to a 2018 report by the Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families. These workers’ incomes will rise more than $700 during the first year, with a cumulative total increase in income of over $1,500 by 2021. The 300,000 estimate includes the 88,000 who make a little more than minimum wage now but who would see their wages go up as employers raise pay to keep them.
More than 155,000 kids in Arkansas will have at least one parent directly or indirectly affected by the minimum wage boost. Twenty-seven percent of workers who will see wage increases because of the initiative are parents.
Missouri. In Missouri, the unofficial election results show that voters approved Proposition B by a very comfortable margin of 62.27 percent to 37.73 percent. The initiative would increase the $7.85 state minimum wage to $8.60 per hour, with 85 cents per hour increases each year until 2023, when the state minimum wage would reach $12.00 per hour. The measure would also exempt government employers from the increases and boost the penalty for paying employees less than the minimum wage.
Provided the voter-approved raise is implemented, by 2023, 677,000 workers in Missouri will see their paychecks rise as a result of a $12 minimum wage, according to the Missouri Budget Project. Workers whose wages are raised in order to meet the new minimum wage will see an extra $2,400 in pay each year upon full implementation.
Nearly 100,000 full-time, full-year workers in Missouri currently live below or near the poverty line, earning less than $26,000 annually to support a family of three, the MBP noted. More than one in four workers who would be impacted by the initiative’s minimum wage increase are parents who are raising nearly 266,000 Missouri kids.
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