Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families says 300,000 Arkansans, or 1 in 4, would benefit from the proposed increase in the minimum wage.

The ballot initiative would raise the current minimum from $8.50 in stages to $11 by 2021. Corporate interests led by the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce are trying to get the proposal knocked off the ballot in court.

Advertisement

Think about it. Some 300,000 people make at or a bit more than minimum wage, which pays $340 for a 40-hour week, or less than $18,000 if you work full-time year-round.

The new report says 57 percent work full-time and 60 percent are women. 80 percent are older than 20. Some 213,000 make minimum wage and would get direct pay increases. Another 88,000 who make slightly more would likely see pay increases as employers pay more to keep them.

Advertisement

By 2021, an additional $1,520 a year, on average, for the 300,000 would improve financial stability, the advocacy group says.

“The increase would be a great first step in reducing our state’s high child poverty rate and giving children a better start in life,” said Rich Huddleston, AACF executive director.

Nearly 155,000 Arkansas children will have at least one parent whose income will increase by the minimum wage boast to $11 an hour. Parents would comprise 27 percent of the workers impacted by the minimum wage increase. According to new data from the Census Bureau, 22.5 percent of Arkansas children live in families with incomes below the poverty line.

Since the increases will go to low-income workers — a total increase of $455 million a year — it’s likely to be spent locally and quickly, a boost for local economy.

Advertisement