On July 18, the House of Representatives voted for a hike in the minimum wage, a vote that was both long over due and historic. House Resolution 582 (Raise the Wage Act) will raise the minimum wage in five steps ($1.10 per year, after the first year’s rise of $1.15) to $15 per hour by 2025. The bill would also phase out the current lower minimum wage for tipped workers, such as restaurant servers, which is $2.13 per hour, eventually raising it to $12.25 per hour. But even more important is the fact that after 2015 the minimum wage will be indexed to median wage growth.
The Economic Policy Institute has estimated that more than 33.5 million workers will benefits from the wage increase, including 30.1 million adults over the age of twenty, 19.6 million full-time workers, 19.5 million women, 9.4 million parents, 4.6 million single parents, and 6.2 million workers in poverty.
At the state level, the biggest winner will be the state of Arkansas. Of the state’s 1.24 million workers, 360,000 or 28.9 percent will be directly affected by the minimum wage hike by 2025. In addition, there is another 97,000 workers or 7.8 percent of the labor force who will be indirectly affected. These are the workers who are currently slightly above the minimum wage, but who will see their wages increased as employers raise their wage scales in response to minimum wage hikes. In total 457,000 workers or 36.7 percent of the Arkansas labor force will benefit from this wage hike.
Given the clear benefits to Arkansas workers, voters in Arkansas should take notice of how the state’s two Senators, Tom Cotton, and John Boozman, will vote. Congressman Crawford has already voted against the measure in the House.