(12/18/18) In two weeks, minimum wage employees in Arkansas will get a raise.
It’s the first of three increases voters approved in November.
After the boost from $8.50/hour to $9.25/hour Jan. 1, the state wage increases to $10/hour in 2020 then $11/hour in 2021.
“I’m excited for it, but I also have mixed feelings about it,” Jonathan Asbury said.
Asbury, a full-time employee at Fuller & Son Hardware in downtown Little Rock for the past five months, makes minimum wage plus benefits.
“I needed to get something that didn’t require me to have a vehicle,” he said. “I was delivering pizzas before this and then my car broke down.”
Arkansans passed the minimum wage hike with 68 percent of the vote. Asbury voted against it.
“I had some reservations about it,” he said. “I’m worried about price increases on stuff, but my bosses here assured me that it’s not going to be a drastic change.”
Consumers can still expect to pay slightly more at their favorite hardware store, grocer or restaurant come Jan. 1.
“I don’t expect to end up paying $10 for a Big Mac or anything but a few cents more here and there,” Asbury said.
Other businesses in the area already pay more than the minimum wage. Some of them plan to increase their starting wage in January as well.
Nearly half the states in the U.S. will see a minimum wage increase in 2019.
Arkansas will have the highest state wage compared to its neighboring states. Missouri voters gave minimum wage earners a raise to $8.60/hour. Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee will remain at $7.25/hour, the federal minimum wage.