September 4, 2020

More than 1 in 4 Florida Workers Would See Pay Boost Under Proposed State Minimum Wage Increase

Amendment 2’s proposed gradual minimum wage increase to $15 per hour by 2026 would help narrow racial and gender pay gaps

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. –  Under Amendment 2’s proposed minimum wage hike, 2.5 million Floridians — more than 1 in 4 Florida workers — would see an increase in pay, according to a new report by Florida Policy Institute (FPI).

Importantly, FPI finds that increasing the state minimum wage would help lift millions of Floridians out of poverty while narrowing the racial and gender pay gaps.

The report finds that under a gradual minimum wage increase to $15 per hour by 2026:

  • Floridians employed in the restaurant/food services industry would benefit the most, with 63.7 percent of workers receiving pay increases, and workers in other service sector industries like retail and accommodations also stand to benefit greatly;
  • 36.3 percent of Black workers and 34.7 percent of Latinx workers would see a pay increase;
  • Nearly 1 in 3 working women (29.8 percent) would benefit from the minimum wage increase, compared to 22.5 percent of working men; and
  • 72.2 percent of Floridians with income below the poverty level would see their household incomes rise.

Several large employers in the state, including Disney and Target, have already set a minimum wage increase to $15 per hour in motion — Target having reached its $15 goal this summer, recognizing that this pandemic makes paying workers better more urgent, not less. Like Amendment 2 proposes, these corporations have increased wages gradually over a multi-year period to ease the impact on their bottom lines, and multiple studies show that by and large, raising the minimum wage does not lead to significant job loss.  

“Before the pandemic, 2.8 million Floridians were trying to get by on income below the poverty level — that’s the same number of people in Miami Dade County,” said Sadaf Knight, CEO of FPI. “The COVID-19 crisis has greatly exacerbated the financial burdens on these individuals. Since the pandemic, 700,000 additional families have signed up for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to put food on the table. This report illustrates the profound impact that a gradual raising of the minimum wage — which has not significantly increased since 2005 — would have for upwards of 25 percent of Florida’s working people that are struggling to afford the most basic necessities.”

“On just $9.70 an hour, I have no choice but to spend every waking minute thinking about how to stretch the pennies between food and rent,” said Faith Booker, a fast food restaurant cashier in Lakeland, Florida and mother of five children making $9.70 an hour. “You shouldn’t have to work two full-time jobs just to scrape by, and still struggle to keep a roof over your family’s head.”

“Floridians are putting our lives on the line at work to keep businesses running and to serve our communities. But when we go home, we barely have enough to keep the lights on,” said Trayvonne Williams, a restaurant worker in Tampa, Florida making $10.50 an hour. “With so many families struggling with the pandemic, the economic recession, and systemic racism impacting workers of color and our access to opportunity, we need higher wages to lift our communities up."

Under Amendment 2, which is on the 2020 general election ballot, nontipped employees would see a gradual increase in their hourly wage from the current state minimum of $8.56 to $10 in September 2021, with a subsequent $1 increase each September until the minimum wage reaches $15 per hour in 2026. From 2027 onward, the state would revert to adjusting the minimum wage to account for inflation each year.

FPI is an independent, nonpartisan and nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing state policies and budgets that improve the economic mobility and quality of life for all Floridians.

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