Ballot Initiatives Put Minimum Wage Increases to Voters in Four States, Two Major Cities

by Mitchell Hirsch

This November, voters in Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska and South Dakota will cast ballots on referenda to raise their states’ minimum wages.  Local minimum wage increases will also be on the ballots in San Francisco and Oakland, California.  In Illinois, voters will be asked their view on raising the state’s minimum wage to $10 an hour in a non-binding, advisory referendum.

More than 400,000 low-wage workers would see pay increases in the four states where voters will decide directly on raising their minimum wage, according to estimates by the Economic Policy Institute.

States with Minimum Wage Increases on the Ballot this November

State Proposed Minimum Wage Increase on Ballot Estimated number of workers who will receive a raise*
Nebraska $7.25 to $9.00 (by 2016) 143,000
South Dakota $7.25 to $8.50 (by 2015) 62,000
Alaska $7.75 to $9.75 (by 2016) 46,000
Arkansas $7.25 to $8.50 (by 2017) 168,000
Total 419,000

*Source: Economic Policy Institute

The proposals in Alaska and South Dakota would also index the minimum wage to the rising cost of living, automatically tying future increases to inflation.

Based on past history, all four measures are likely to succeed.  From 2002 to 2013, nine states had ballot initiatives on raising the minimum wage; all of them passed.

Voters in some cities will also have a say on the minimum wage this November. The measure being voted on inOakland, California, would raise the city’s minimum wage to $12.25 by 2015.  San Franciscans will vote on raising their city’s minimum wage to $15 by 2018.

While the federal minimum wage remains stuck at a poverty-level $7.25 due to Congress’s failure to act, strong public support for minimum wage increases, and higher wages generally, is driving states and local jurisdictions to boost wages on their own.

Want to get involved in this November’s ballot initiatives? Check out these links to the campaigns in Alaska,Arkansas, Illinois, Nebraska, South Dakota, Oakland (CA), and San Francisco.