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Voters in two red states approve minimum wage hikes

Voters in two red states approve minimum wage hikes
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Voters in two red states -- Arkansas and Missouri -- approved ballot measures to raise the minimum wage.
 
“Voters are saying ‘enough’ to an economy that’s leaving too many struggling families behind,” said Jonathan Schleifer, executive director of The Fairness Project, an advocacy group that pushed for the initiatives.
 
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“Real wages for working families haven’t budged in decades, and the disparities between the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ continues to grow,” he added.
 
Together the ballot measures will lead to raises for more than 1 million workers.
 
The Arkansas measure will incrementally raise the minimum wage from the current level of $8.50 to $11 by 2021. In Missouri, the wage will rise in stages from $7.85 to $12 by 2023.
 
Advocates of increasing the floor on hourly wages say that, when adjusted for inflation, the minimum wage has fallen well below its 1968 peak.
 
Labor productivity has grown 77 percent since 1973, while compensation has climbed only 12.4 percent.
 
David Cooper, an analyst at the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute says wages are supposed to reflect labor productivity. 
 
Opponents of the measures said they will lead to increased unemployment, as employers struggle to pay their workers.
 
“It's a triumph for out-of-state activist groups that funded both campaigns, but a loss for the small business owners and young adults who will face the consequences of these wage hikes,” said Samantha Summers, communications director for the conservative Employment Policies Institute.