Across the U.S., the idea of companies paying workers more as the economy improves and basic costs continue to rise is starting to gain a lot of traction with individuals, businesses and lawmakers. That, in turn, puts more people in a position to benefit from rising wages, including in some states where people might not expect such changes to take place.
While the federal minimum wage hasn't risen in nearly a decade, and certainly doesn't seem likely to do so in the near future, 29 states and Washington, D.C., have their own minimums above and beyond the national level of $7.25 per hour, according to Mother Jones. Moreover, organizers in Missouri and Arkansas seem poised to get their states' minimums boosted on November's ballots, even if it's by less than a dollar per hour right now.
"Seventy-seven cents an hour doesn't seem like a lot, but that's a lot in a pay period" low-wage worker Cheyenne Mauzy told the news site. "That adds up a lot when you're a mom who has to go back to work."
If Missouri and Arkansas see their higher wage laws go into effect, they will be the 21st and 22nd states to raise the minimum since 2012, in addition to 40 individual counties that have chose to go north of their own states' levels, the report said. This comes as workers' wages have largely remained stagnant relative to inflation for much of the last decade.
What's the benefit?
For those making the minimum wage in Missouri, for instance, higher pay would provide significant financial flexibility, according to the Kansas City Star. Currently, the Show Me State has a minimum of just $7.85 per hour - just 60 cents above the federal minimum - but the ballot measure to be voted on in November would raise that to $12 per hour over the next few years.
Experts say that kind of pay increase (of more than 52 percent) would give the state's lowest-paid workers significantly more freedom in their lives, just in terms of having to work fewer jobs or fewer hours, the report said. This is true even if it's not the $15 many worker advocates now say is critical to getting people on a living wage.
Additional perks from a higher wage
In addition to simply giving workers more money to spend each month - relieving often significant financial stress - a higher minimum wage carries with it a number of unexpected perks as well, according to MarketWatch. For instance, a new study recently found that for every 50 cents the minimum wage rises, recidivism rates for people who have been released from prison drops 2.8 percent.
In addition, the reduction of stress seems to lead to better mental health among low-paid workers, and companies get the benefit of seeing less employee turnover, the report said. That reduction in turnover means companies don't have to retrain as many workers, and tend to enjoy better ongoing safety records as a result.
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