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Hobby Lobby lifting

hourly wage to $17

Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. is raising its minimum full-time hourly wage to $17, effective Oct. 1.

The arts-and-crafts retailer announced the pay increase on Monday.

The retailer said that it was one of the first to set an hourly wage "well above the federal minimum wage." It has raised wages across its stores 10 times in the past 11 years. Most recently to $15 in 2014, well before it was "fashionable" with other chains, Hobby Lobby said in a news release.

"Because this year has presented so many challenges to our employees, we are very happy that we are able to provide pay increases to thousands of our associates before the Christmas season," David Green, company founder and chief executive officer, said in a statement.

Hobby Lobby faced scrutiny in late March after Business Insider obtained a company memo that said sick workers were expected to use their personal paid leave or take an unpaid leave of absence as the coronavirus spread. The chain said in April that it would close its stores and furlough nearly all of its employees in response to the pandemic.

Hobby Lobby reopened all 923 stores in July.

-- Nathan Owens

Port's barge activity

down 80% in August

Barge activity in August at the Port of Little Rock sank to its lowest level in almost 10 years.

Last month, the Arkansas River port worked 13 barges, a level not seen since December 2011 as the economic downturn triggered by the coronavirus pandemic continued to affect the port's major customers, according to Executive Director Bryan Day.

The figure represented nearly 80% drop from the 61 barges the port worked in August 2019.

Cargo fell at the same rate, to 20,000 tons in August compared with 93,000 tons in the same month a year ago.

For the year, the port has worked 257 barges, a 30% decrease from the 369 barges the port worked in the first eight months of 2019.

Cargo weighing 6.9 million tons was moved in the first eight months of 2020 along the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System.

The total is a 29% increase over the tonnage moved on the system during the same period last year when much of the upper half of the system was closed because of flood damage.

-- Noel Oman

After declining 1.32,

state index 431.54

The Arkansas Index, a price-weighted index that tracks the largest public companies based in the state, closed Tuesday at 431.54, down 1.32.

"Stocks managed to hold on to a nice gain after soaring at the open, feeding off the strong performance from the previous session on a broad market gain and solid economic data," said Chris Harkins, managing director at Raymond James & Associates.

The index was developed by Bloomberg News and the Democrat-Gazette with a base value of 100 as of Dec. 30, 1997.


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