Arkansas has always been a low wage state, and that feature of our economy has long held us back in terms of economic growth and development.
We have also long been a state that has been terribly unfair to working people, and that has historically hurt our state and driven people out, leaving Arkansas at the bottom of the economic barrel.
Today, as unemployment claims are actually dropping and the economy is rebounding as the pandemic recedes, we are seeing the failed thinking that reinforces these failed economics on display; particularly from employers in the restaurant industry that offer only the tipped-minimum wage, where wage theft and poor working conditions are rampant, where the work schedules are terrible and benefits nonexistent.
It is no wonder that such low wage industries are struggling as the economy rebounds and people no longer have to take just jobs of necessity but instead have better employment options.
Instead of blaming workers as they are currently doing, these industries should instead focus on competing in the American fashion — offering better pay, better conditions and better benefits to draw in and keep workers. The best thing about that? All of us here will be better off for them doing so as our economy will improve and flourish.
Arkansas must finally stop being a low wage state. The Delta must stop being a low wage region. Jonesboro must stop being a low wage city. Our future depends on it.