MARION, Ark. — Arkansas' minimum wage increased from $9.25 to $10 per hour on New Year's Day, following a legislative series of increases in the state.
"It shows to me the importance of movements like Fight for $15, changing paradigm and focusing on the working class instead of corporate 1%," community activist Hunter Demster said.
Demster works on community rallies for a living wage.
But Thomas Martin, owner of Pizza Pro in Marion said customers will have to shoulder some of the increased cost.
"It gets hard to come up with ways to save money other than to raise your retail pricing," he said.
Demster countered that argument and said he hoped they would not raise prices.
"Statistics have proven when you put more money in workers pockets, they spend more money at those same businesses, so they should offset one another," Demster said.
Demster pointed out minimum wage in the Volunteer State is still at the federal minimum of $7.25, and hoped Tennessee lawmakers would follow Arkansas’s example.
"It shows how behind the times Tennessee is," Demster said. "We have a legislature working against the best interests of working class people in our state."
Some local entities including Memphis and Shelby County governments have already raised wages to $15 an hour on their own.
Minimum wage is set to increase next year again in Arkansas to $11 dollars per hour.