In a victory for its workers, Arkansas and Missouri approved substantial wage increases during the 2018 midterm elections. This means the two red states will soon be among the highest of minimum wages of any state.
For Arkansas, Issue 5 was the critical ballot measure to determine the increase, which passed with 68% of the vote. The state will see the minimum wage increase from $8.50 per hour to $9.25 per hour on January 1, 2019; to $10 on January 1, 2020; and to $11 on January 1, 2021. This will result in a quarter of the state's workers receiving a raise.
Before approval, full-time minimum wage employees in Missouri made $16,000 a year. That's less buying power than the minimum wage in the 1960s. Now, the state will gradually increase the wage from $7.85 an hour in 2018 to $8.60 in 2019 and then by 85 cents a year until it reaches $12 in 2023. Voters weren't the only ones who believed in better treatment on November 6th; these business leaders made their voices heard as well. Green America has been a longtime supporter of Business for a Fair Minimum Wage, a national network of business owners and executives who believe a fair minimum wage makes good business sense.
With your support, we are thrilled that both ballot initiatives passed with strong margins—and with over 700 business signers in Missouri. These wins, along with a legislative win for $15 in Massachusetts, won't only will help millions of workers and hundreds of thousands of businesses. They set a strong stage for minimum wage work in 2019 and 2020 in other geographies—just as the 2016 and 2017 ballot and legislative wins provided momentum for this election cycle.
Workers are also customers. Raising the wage means more spending power to use on local businesses, generating consumer demand and ultimately fostering job growth. Thank you to the businesses that signed onto the letter and to Business for a Fair Minimum Wage for spearheading this important work. Your support helps us move towards a more just and greener economy.