Updated: Voters approved ballot measures to raise the minimum wage in all five states where the referendums appeared--bringing the grand tally to 28 states that have moved to hike wages above the federal minimum of $7.25. The referendum in Illinois was nonbinding, however. That's still up to the legislature.
Employers in five different states may see their overhead spike after Election Day.
In Alaska, Arkansas, Illinois, Nebraska, and South Dakota, voters will be able to vote for higher minimum wages, which currently range from $6.25 to $8.25. The minimum wage referendums are understandably getting mixed reviews from business owners.
While some welcome the uptick--saying it's the right thing to do--others fear needing to reduce employees' hours or even let staffers go as a result. Still others cite the potential for needing to raise prices, should wages rise.
It's a hot-button issue for sure, says Mark Price, a labor economist at the Keystone Research Center, a think tank in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. "Clearly, there is a lot of momentum in individual states," he says, noting that the midterm election could be telling, as voters in traditionally red states like Alaska and Arkansas will be able to sound off on the issue. "When you see these more conservative-leaning states beginning to raise the wage, that makes a big difference."
In Illinois, the referendum is nonbinding--that is, it's up to the state legislature to approve the measure. But movement on a higher minimum wage has been in the works for some time. Ten state legislatures voted to raise the minimum wage this year. Plus, President Barack Obama, in February, ordered federal contractors to raise their employees' wages to at least $10.10 an hour. He has also voiced favor for raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 from $7.25 an hour.
While a wage hike might be akin to a steamship that's on a chartered course, we're curious how you come down on the wage debate.
Below, select the response that most fits with your views: