I'm in the insurance business. We help create peace of mind and economic security for people. But every day I see hardworking Arkansans who want to provide for their families, yet are struggling just to keep a roof overhead and food on the table.
Today's minimum wage of $8.50 an hour is too low for today's cost of living. I know what it's like to have to work two low-wage jobs just to scrape by, and it's something I want to change. Not just for my employees, but everyone. It's why I support raising Arkansas' minimum wage for the good of working people and the good of businesses across the state.
Raising the minimum wage is an important type of insurance for businesses as well as workers. Workers in one business are customers at other businesses. Raising the minimum wage will enable many more workers to make ends meet and it will boost the consumer spending that businesses depend on to survive and grow.
I know from experience that fair pay is good for the bottom line. We see it every day in our offices in Little Rock and Fort Smith. Our employees really are our greatest asset.
How can our employees help clients have peace of mind if they don't have peace of mind themselves?
Our employees are more invested in our business because we are more invested in them. Their success is our success. With decent wages from day one, our staff turnover is low. That saves us from the costly cycle of hiring and training new employees only to quickly lose them. Instead, we have employees with high morale and longer-term commitment and knowledge. And that results in more satisfied clients.
Raising the minimum wage makes good sense for business and good sense for Arkansans. That's why I and other business owners support Issue 5, the Minimum Wage Increase Initiative.
Issue 5 calls for gradually raising our state minimum wage to $9.25 per hour on Jan. 1, 2019, $10 in 2020, and $11 in 2021. An estimated 300,000 workers will get a raise under Issue 5.
And that means more Arkansans can make ends meet and hundreds of thousands of customers will have more money to spend at businesses all across our state. Raising the minimum wage will strengthen our economy and strengthen our tax base.
Raising the minimum wage is smart policy. Issue 5 gradually phases in the increase over several years so businesses can adapt and reap the benefits of higher wages such as lower worker turnover, increased productivity, better customer service and increased consumer spending.
Raising the minimum wage will also mean a more level playing field for business. Companies shouldn't be paying wages that are so little that people working full time have to turn to taxpayer-financed assistance like food stamps or private charity like food banks just to get by. We need a decent minimum wage that doesn't keep working people in poverty.
Our life insurance makes it possible for widows and widowers to hold on to their homes. Raising the minimum wage can make it possible for someone to have a place to call home.
Raising the minimum wage means more money in the paychecks of students working their way through college and more money for seniors who need to work to supplement their Social Security.
Raising the minimum wage will mean more money in the pockets of the customers of Arkansas businesses.
Raising the minimum wage through Issue 5 makes good sense for Arkansas.
Aaron "Blake" Ralston is the owner of the Ralston Agency, with offices in Little Rock and Fort Smith, and a member of Business for a Fair Minimum Wage.
Editorial on 10/19/2018