Hundreds of thousands of Arkansans will be getting a raise in January as voters have passed an initiated act to increase the state's minimum wage, according to unofficial results projected by The Associated Press.
The Associated Press called the vote shortly before 8 p.m.
With 5 of 2654, or 0 percent, of precincts reporting Tuesday evening, supporters of Ballot Issue 5 led 116,097 votes to 61,114, or 66 percent, The Associated Press reported just past 8 p.m.
Arkansas' current minimum hourly wage is $6.25, compared with the federal level of $7.25. The passage of the measure will gradually raise the state's minimum wage to $8.50 by 2017, with the first increase to $7.50 becoming effective in January. The state's last increase occurred in 2006, when the Legislature raised the hourly rate from $5.15 to $6.25.
A study by the Advocates for Arkansas Children and Families released earlier this year states that 170,000 people would be directly or indirectly affected by an increase in the minimum wage.
The measure, which was backed by the group Give Arkansas a Raise Now, had been met with some opposition in the weeks leading up to Election Day. Jackson Stephens Jr., the son of the co-founder of Stephens Inc., had sued to block the vote, but the Arkansas Supreme Court ultimately ruled last month that the measure could remain on the ballot.
Read Wednesday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.