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What to expect as Florida’s minimum wage increases to $15 per hour

61% of voters were in favor of Amendment 2

ORLANDO, Fla. – Florida’s minimum wage is about to go up, after voters approved Amendment 2, which outlines a plan for the state’s minimum wage to reach $15 per hour by 2026.

The plan is to raise the wage from $8.56 an hour to $10 next September and bump it up a dollar each year following until reaching $15 in 2026.

Here’s what the minimum wage increase would look like each year, according to Ballotpedia.

  • $10 on Sept. 30, 2021
  • $11 on Sept. 30, 2022
  • $12 on Sept. 30, 2023
  • $13 on Sept. 30, 2024
  • $14 on Sept. 30, 2025
  • $15 on Sept. 30, 2026

Beginning on Sept. 30, 2027, the state’s plan would be to have an annual adjustment to the state minimum wage based on increases to the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers.

A supervote majority of 60% yes was required to adopt the amendment. It would change Section 24 of Article X in the Florida Constitution.

Candidate

Votes

%

Yes
6,391,75361%
No
4,117,81539%
100% of Precincts Reporting

(6,097 / 6,097)

Orlando trial attorney John Morgan led the effort to get Amendment 2 on the ballot, investing $6 million of his own money into the initiative.

“Last night, the working poor in Florida won very big and in a forever way,” he said.

Leading up to Election Day, News 6 followed members of Service Employees International Union as they knocked on doors to try to convince voters to approve the amendment.

Joseph Gourgue, a service attendant at Orlando International Airport, was among them. News 6 caught up with Gourgue at the airport to talk to him after the vote.

“As a grandfather and as a father, I will be able economically to help out my kids and my grandkids,” he smiled.

The Florida Chamber of Commerce and the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association had voiced concerns, saying the increase could lead to job losses, worker hours being cut and further strain to a state economy already struggling to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Amendment 2 is bad for Florida and even worse for Floridians,” said Mark Wilson, president and CEO of Florida Chamber of Commerce in a release Tuesday night. “In these difficult times, this costly amendment hurts the very local businesses trying to survive the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Eddie Rodas also looks at the amendment through a different lens.

As a way to help out his community when the pandemic started, Rodas' landscape company owner began hiring temporary workers who were either furloughed or laid off from their regular job.

“I just don’t see a good end to this,” he said. “That means someone with no experience will come in at $15 per hour and put my other employees who have a lot of experience in the same pay scale. For me, that means I have to increase my rates to all of my clients.”

It’s that early response from small businesses that has University of Central Florida economist and director of the Institute for Economic Forecast Sean Snaith predicting the passing of Amendment 2 will bring a dark economic forecast for Florida.

“The road to hell is paved with good intentions,” Snaith said Wednesday. “The notion that this is some manna from heaven falling down into the hands of workers is a misconception.”

Like what has been said by many of the opponents to Amendment 2, like the Florida Chamber of Commerce, Snaith believes there will be some winners, but also bigger losers.

“The focus will be on those winners, the people that kept their jobs, kept working same number of hours and received these higher wages,” he said. “You probably won’t hear about the teenager that can’t find their first job or we won’t hear about the worker who saw their hours cut.”

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Florida now joins seven other states who have voted to raise minimum wage to $15. However, unlike states that have done so like New York and California, Snaith said Florida is different.

“Whether you are stretching it out five years, three years or six, it’s still looking at a much larger percentage increase in Florida than what you would see in a San Francisco and Seattle,” he said. “We have a diverse state. The labor market in Miami-Dade is different from the labor market in Ocala. One size does not fit all, Apalachicola is a different economy than Miami and we are saying businesses of all sizes have to pay minimum wage.”

Because of that, Snaith believes businesses will have to make changes. He quoted a study out of the University of Washington that has also been used by the National Bureau of Economic Research. The five-year study began at the request of the city of Seattle after it voted to raise minimum wage in 2014.

“Although the ordinance appears to have boosted wages for the city’s lowest-paid workers, the benefits of the increase may have been partly offset by fewer hours worked per person and slightly less overall employment, the Seattle Minimum Wage Study research team found.”

Other studies at the University of Washington showed:

  • Boosted wages for lowest-paid workers, offset by fewer hours
  • Significant reduction of new entries into the workforce
  • Child care businesses raised prices or tuition and reduced staff hours
  • Supermarket food prices: No significant evidences of price increases due to minimum wage

“Now in the pandemic I say this is economic policy malpractice,” Snaith said. “It’s not just this glorious win that is going to rain down our lower income. I wish it were but that is not how the economy works.”

The last time Florida voted on a minimum wage ballot measure was in 2004. Florida Amendment 5 was approved and provided for a $6.15 per hour minimum wage set to increase each year based on changes in the CPI-W or inflation.


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