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This Year's Minimum Wage Initiatives Fell Way Short

Four red states passed referendums on higher minimum wages Tuesday, but it's not enough.
Earlier this fall, demonstrators demanded a $15 an hour minimum wage from fast food restaurants. Nineteen were arrested at this New York City protest.
Earlier this fall, demonstrators demanded a $15 an hour minimum wage from fast food restaurants. Nineteen were arrested at this New York City protest.Reuters/Adrees Latif

The pundits will tell you that yesterday’s election signals a more conservative, redder America, as Republicans took control of both houses of Congress and picked up three governorships in traditionally blue states.

But on one economic issue, the election results were solidly progressive. New minimum wage laws passed in four out of the four states that had referendums on the ballot. The minimum wage will rise to $8.50 in South Dakota by 2015 and Arkansas by 2017, to $9.00 in Nebraska by 2016, and to $9.75 in Alaska in 2016. The kicker? Three of those states—Arkansas, South Dakota and Alaska—elected new Democratic senators with Republican ones on Tuesday.