Group making push to raise Arkansas' minimum wage

LITTLE ROCK (KATV)--For Arkansans barely making it under the state's minimum wage, there could be good news come November.

Arkansans have been getting paid the same minimum wage for the past eight years, but give Arkansas a Raise Now is hoping to change this by gathering enough signatures and letting the people decide if they should be making more.

Nearly 200 people are hitting the streets throughout the state campaigning for signatures to help raise Arkansas' minimum wage.

"We want to raise the minimum wage, the state minimum wage, to 8.50 an hour over a three year period and we're doing that through a ballot measure," said Chair of Give Arkansas a Raise Now, Reverend Stephen Copley.

The Give Arkansas a Raise Now coalition will need to collect 62,000 signatures by July 7th to put this measure on the November ballot.

The proposed measure would increase the current minimum wage of $6.25 to $7.50 by January 2015. In 2016, it would increase to $8, by 2017 workers would be making $8.50/hour.

"Folks are working hard, they're playing by the rules, they share the American dream, and they just can't make their ends meet so it's time for it to raise," said Copley.'

15 percent of Arkansas' workforce makes the current minimum wage of $6.25, and despite what some may think it's no longer just young adults suffering.

"After the last recession we see folks that are even a little bit older working at minimum wage and as I've said... if you're spending $100 a week on groceries $300 a week on rent, there's no way you can make it so then you're thrust into working two jobs," added Copley.

There has been some opposition to raising the minimum wage, some in the hospitality industry believe that if it were to rise that could mean either laying off workers or increasing prices for consumers.

Channel 7 did reach out to the Arkansas Hospitality Association for comment, but did not hear back from them.