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Arkansas Increases Minimum Wage In New Year

ARKANSAS (KFSM) — Arkansas was one of many states that increased minimum wage on the first day of 2017. The new minimum wage went up by a dollar to $8.50....

ARKANSAS (KFSM) -- Arkansas was one of many states that increased minimum wage on the first day of 2017.

The new minimum wage went up by a dollar to $8.50. Voters approved increasing the state’s minimum wage in 2014 and the Arkansas Department of Labor began raising it 50 cents each year starting in 2015.

“Labor and payroll make up a big part of my expense, it is my biggest expense. It’s more than half of my gross sales,” Keith Martin, who owns Joyce Street Cleaners and Classic Cleaners, said.

Martin said he’s already been paying his employees above minimum wage to stay competitive and keep good employees. He felt like this increase affects his business more than large companies.

“Everything we make is in quarters, dimes and nickels," he said. "We're cleaning clothes, shirts for $1.55 a piece, we’re not selling a piece of equipment for thousands of dollars, so we have to look at every quarter, dime and nickel."

Tori Jones is a college student who makes minimum wage. She said she’s glad to be seeing more money come payday.

"Hopefully enough to be able to pay my insurance and my car payment and have enough money left over to buy other things,” Jones said.

Owner of Steffey’s Pizza in Lavaca, Leann Ellison, said while this increase gives her employees more money, it means her costs go up.

“We try to keep the prices as low as we possibly can and still be able to keep the doors open and keep everyone paid, but whenever all of our costs go up, we do have to turn around and pass that on to everybody,” Ellison said.

Employers only have to pay full-time students who work less than twenty hours a week 80 percent of the minimum wage.  Servers who make tips won't be affected by the increase.

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