Midterms and minimum wage: Arkansas, Missouri approve pay hikes

Arkansas and Missouri residents voted Tuesday to hike their states’ minimum wages, joining a nationwide push to increase pay for hourly workers.

Missouri voters approved Proposition B, which raises the state’s minimum wage to $12 per hour in increments by the year 2023. The state’s current minimum wage is $7.85 per hour, compared to the $7.25 minimum mandated at the federal level.

More than 675,000 Missouri workers are expected to see a pay increase due to the measure, according to the Washington Post. The measure passed with more than 61 percent of the vote.

Arkansas voters passed Issue 5, which hikes minimum wage to $11 per hour by the year 2021, up from a current level of $8.50. Roughly a quarter of the state’s workers will benefit from the increase. The measure passed with roughly 68 percent of the vote.

The votes took place amid increased scrutiny over minimum wages among states and top companies. Earlier this year, Amazon increased its minimum hourly pay to $15 for roughly 350,000 employees after facing months of public criticism, most notably from Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Walmart boosted its starting pay to $11 per hour, while Target is in the process of incrementally hiking wages to $15 per hour by the year 2020.

The federal government hasn’t raised the national minimum wage since 2007 and top White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow recently told FOX Business a higher national wage wouldn’t make sense.

“The federal government shouldn’t have jurisdiction over the states anyway in a matter like this. The conditions are different in these states, the cost of living is different, the state of business is different,” Kudlow said, noting that private businesses and states should determine when to hike wages.