US ELECTIONS 2020

When will Florida’s minimum wage raise and how much will it be? 

As the sunshine state heads to the polls voters have the chance to decide if they want to raise the minimum wage gradually to $15 per hour by 2027.

When will Florida’s minimum wage raise and how much will it be? 
Giorgio Viera EFE

Voters in Florida will be given an opportunity to raise the state’s minimum wage this election for the first time since 2004 when they last did so. Back then the federal minimum wage was just $5.15 an hour and Florida raised it by a dollar to $6.15. Since then it has been adjusted annually tied to inflation making the current minimum wage $8.56 while the federal is now only $7.25.

If the measure passes the rate on 1 January, 2021 would be $8.65 and then increase to $10 at the end of September. Then it would increase by one dollar every year until 30 September, 2026 when it will reach $15 and it would once again be based on inflation. That would make Florida the ninth state to vote for raising the minimum wage to $15.

Biden is making a national push to raise the minimum wage

Presidential candidate Joe Biden has made raising the minimum wage across the US part of his campaign platform. According to a Monmouth Poll in September found 67 percent of registered voters are planning to vote for the ballot measure well above the 60 percent threshold needed for it to be made law. Raising the minimum wage has been a winner whether it is in Republican-leaning or Democrat-leaning states it has been unbeatable at the ballot since Florida shot it down twice in 1996 according to Ballotpedia. The 2004 amendment in Florida passed with nearly 3 out of 4 voters for the measure.

Those who are against and for raising Florida's minimum wage

The main charge against the proposal comes from a group called Save Florida Jobs, Inc whose main backers are the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association and the National Restaurant Association. They argue with the economic consequences from the covid-19 pandemic that many businesses now shuttered will never reopen their doors if the ballot measure is approved.

On the other side is Florida for a Fair Wage, mostly bankrolled by the firm of John Morgan an Orlando attorney. He compares todays wages to that of slave wages far below the living wage. The League of Women Voters is also lending their support to the wage increase stating, “The current minimum wage of $8.67 per hour ($17,800 per year for a full time worker), is not enough money for a person to live on.”

Economists have mixed views of raising the minimum wage on the economy as a whole.

Those against the wage increases point the to a 2019 Congressional Budget Offices report on increasing the national minimum wage to $15. In it the CBO said that it would destroy 1.3 million jobs nationally, conversely it would pull 1.3 million people out of poverty.

Another case they point to is that of Seattle where in 2015 the city began raising its minimum wage to $15. A study carried out by members of the University of Washington initially found a nearly 6 percent reduction in pay for low-wage jobs collectively due to reduced hours. However, there wasn’t the loss of jobs that had been predicted and there was no change in the rate of businesses opening and closing.

Proponents for raising the minimum wage argue that it will help those most disadvantaged in the economy and increase living standards. Ben Zipperer an economist at the Economic Policy Institute was one of those critical of the University of Washington study, he argued in Congress last year that if the minimum wage had kept up with productivity since 1968 it would be $20. He argues that gradually raising the minimum wage would be good for the economy.

One of the biggest fears is inflation, but a research paper by The Upjohn Institute found that a ten percent increase in the minimum wage only accounts for about 0.36 percent increase in prices covering various states from 1978 to 2015. So under that price increase if an item was $10 it would become $10.04.

When will Florida know

Currently the groups that are for the amendment are outspending the opposition nearly 10 to 1. Florida’s voters are already casting their ballots but they will have to wait until after 3 November to see what their paycheck will look like next year.