Voters in Arkansas have approved a ballot measure that will increase the state's minimum wage to $8.50 an hour by 2017, from $6.25 an hour now.
The minimum wage is currently $1 less than the federal level of $7.25. The proposal made it to the ballot after supporters submitted 62,000 signatures from voters, and survived a lawsuit challenging the validity of the signatures.
The first increase to $7.50 will become effective in January 2015. The last increase to the minimum wage in Arkansas was in 2006, when it was raised to $6.25 an hour, from $5.15. Earlier this year, the Advocates for Arkansas Children and Families released a study saying that close to 170,000 people would be affected by an increase in the minimum wage, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports.