Foodservice Equipment Reports

Higher Minimum Wage Gets Thumbs Up In Five States

Election Day last week saw five states approve ballot measures that will gradually raise the minimum wage. Twenty-five other states have passed similar laws in recent years.

Voters in Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska and South Dakota supported proposals to raise wages for their lowest-paid workers; Illinois approved a non-binding measure, which won’t immediately change the current law.

In Alaska, more than two-thirds of voters supported raising the minimum wage to $9.75, from the current $7.75, by 2016. In Arkansas, 65% of voters supported an increase to $8.50, from $6.25, by 2017; and 59% of Nebraska voters backed an increase to $9, from $7.25, by 2016. South Dakota had the slimmest margin, with 53% supporting a $1.25 raise next year to $8.50 from $7.25.

Voters in San Francisco also approved a measure to raise the minimum wage to $15, from $10.74, by 2018, matching Seattle with the highest in the nation.

Efforts by President Obama to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, from its current $7.25, by 2015, have been stalled in Congress. But support for raising the minimum wage has grown in recent years. While the National Federation of Independent Business, a small-business lobby group, has long opposed efforts to raise minimum wage rates, small-business owners recently have shown a growing recognition of the need to raise base wages—whether to attract new talent or ease concerns about pay equity. In an October survey of 816 small businesses with less than $20 million in annual revenue, 51% of owners said they intend to raise the base pay for their lowest-paid workers by as much as 5% over the next six to 12 months. The survey, conducted by The Wall Street Journal and Vistage Int’l., found another 20% of owners said they would raise base wages for the lowest-paid workers by 5% to 9%, and 4% said they would raise wages by more than 4%.

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