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Florida Increasing State Minimum Wage by Two Percent

While advocates across the country continue to demand states increase their minimum wage to $15.00 per hour, Florida decided to forgo large scale reform and increase its minimum wage by only two percent.  Effective January 1, 2018, Florida’s minimum wage will increase by 15 cents from $8.10 to $8.25 per hour.  Florida’s minimum wage for tipped employees will also increase by 15 cents from $5.08 to $5.23 per hour. To put this in perspective, a year earlier, Florida increased its minimum wage by five cents from $8.05 to $8.10 per hour, while tipped employees received an increase from $5.03 to $5.08 per hour.

penniesAt first blush, it appears Florida is hardly keeping pace with the economy or inflation.  While higher, the state’s minimum wage is a far cry from the $15.00 an hour some labor groups and legislators have been seeking in recent years.  However, Florida defends its actions by stating it is bound by state law.  Florida’s minimum wage is calculated each year by the Department of Economic Opportunity using a formula established by Florida law. The calculation is based on the percentage increase in the federal Consumer Price Index for “urban wage earners and clerical workers” in the southern region for the 12-month period prior to Sept. 1. In theory, Florida holds that by calculating wages in higher urban areas, the increase in minimum wage directly increases wages for those across the state, including those in rural areas. 

Florida points out many companies in Florida have voluntarily raised their own minimum wage.  Employers such as Disney pay most of their employees $10.00 an hour, with labor groups in discussion to raise wages to $15.00 per hour by 2028. Similar employers such as Westgate Resorts have also voluntarily raised their minimum wage well above the established minimum wage. With employers voluntarily increasing their own minimum wage, many question the impact of a state minimum wage. However, not every employer in Florida is large enough to sustain self-increased wages such as Disney. For those employers in rural towns throughout Florida, the rise in minimum wage represents an increased financial burden that many would not be able to sustain all at once. Although minimal, many employers throughout the state hold that the raise in minimum wage imposes reasonable economic restraints, while also providing additional income for their employees.

Employers need to take into account the increase minimum wage effective January 1, 2018.  While many employers will not be affected by the increases in minimum wage, those in the agricultural, hospitality and food service industries may need to increase their hourly wages in order to be compliant. 

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