Posted by Eleanor Wheeler on June 18th 2014
The teenager at your local burger joint is probably making minimum wage, but he or she isn't a typical minimum wage worker. If Arkansas passes the ballot initiative to increase the minimum wage to $8.50 an hour, most of the workers who would benefit are much older. Part-time, high school age employees make up less than 15 percent of the minimum wage workers in Arkansas.
Most minimum wage workers are critical breadwinners for their families, and most of these breadwinners aren't teenagers. On average, workers who would be affected by the increase in the minimum wage provide about half of the income that their family depends on, and the vast majority of employees who earn minimum wage (85 percent) are over 20 years old.[i] Many are also single parents. There are about 90,000 children living in Arkansas who would have at least one parent affected if the ballot initiative to increase the minimum wage passes.[ii]
Undercutting wages for hardworking families in Arkansas to protect the employability of teens is harmful and misinformed. There is no evidence to suggest that modest increases in the minimum wage will hurt employment. Study after study has shown that there's no reason to be afraid of a minimum wage increase.[iii] Letting the minimum wage deteriorate in the name of "protecting jobs" is ineffective and devastating to hard working families trying to make ends meet.
[i] Economic Policy Institute
[ii] Economic Policy Institute