$15 an hour minimum wage is approved by voters in Florida

$15 an hour minimum wage is approved by voters in Florida

Joining seven other states in voting for a $15 an hour minimum wage, voters in Florida have approved proposals to raise the state’s minimum wage. More than 60% of the population in the state approved a constitutional amendment to lift minimum wages by 2026. The current rate sits at $8.56 and the federal wage floor has remained at $7.25 since 2009. While many states have stood for higher minimum wages in the past couple of years, not many have aimed for $15 an hour, which is the level endorsed by Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential candidate in this year’s election.

Whilst Florida approved the raise in minimum wages, the state also backed President Trump’s re-election, likely a sign that this is an issue for both Republican and Democratic voters. On the one hand, David Cooper, senior analyst at the Economic Policy Institute, a think tank that champions higher minimum wages, said that: “That tells me this is an issue that wins with Democrats and Republicans.” John Morgan, Orlando lawyer, said in a text message that “[…] the people of Florida [have] gave[n] the working poor a forever raise. This was not a political issue, it was a moral issue.”

On the other hand, the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association is asking for the measure to be rejected. According to them, the new increased minimum wages will cost the state 158,000 jobs. Just last December, Florida’s Supreme Court approved the inclusion of the proposal. However, that was before Covid-19 affected the hospitality sector, including a number of restaurants, hotels, theme parks, and other businesses that contribute to the state’s tourism industry.

IZA World of Labor contributor David Neumark has looked at what the evidence has to say about the employment effects of minimum wages. According to Neumark, there are several key gaps when it comes to understanding the effects. In his article he writes that: “While low wages contribute to the dire economic straits of many poor and low-income families, the argument that a higher minimum wage is an effective way to improve their economic circumstances is not supported by the evidence. […] A good deal of evidence indicates that the wage gains from minimum wage increases are offset, for some workers, by fewer jobs.”

Read David Neumark’s article Employment effects of minimum wages