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As more states set aggressive hikes in minimum wages, Florida pay starts to lag

The Fight for $15 campaign hosted a rally outside of St. Petersburg City Hall in November, calling for a hike in minimum wage. 
[SARA DINATALE | Times]

The Fight for $15 campaign hosted a rally outside of St. Petersburg City Hall in November, calling for a hike in minimum wage. [SARA DINATALE | Times]

Florida's long been branded a low-wage state. Now it may soon become known as a low-minimum-wage state, too.

That's apparent when Florida is compared to 28 other states whose minimum wages are higher than the $7.25 an hour minimum wage set by the federal government. That's what the remaining 21 states without minimum wage laws must pay.

Many states that set their own minimum wages are starting to raise them, sometimes aggressively. And that means Florida, which raised its minimum wage for 2017 this week by all of a nickel to $8.10 from $8.05 in 2016, increasingly finds itself on the lower end of the minimum wage scale.

It will fall further behind.

Florida is one of a record 19 states raising their minimum wage for 2017. Some states raised their minimum wage via ballot initiatives. Others, like Florida, saw wages rise to reflect inflation adjustments.

Nationally, about 4.3 million low-wage workers will receive a raise. In Florida's case, the paltry 5-cent hourly increase translates to an additional $104 annual increase in income for its full-time minimum wage workers.

In contrast, minimum wage hikes in such states as Arizona, Washington, Maine and Colorado, among others, are significantly outpacing what is happening in Florida.

Arizona led all states this year, raising its minimum wage $1.95 to $10 an hour. Seven states (Arizona, California, Colorado, Maine, New York, Oregon and Washington) will raise their minimum wages to between $12 and $15 per hour, to be phased in over several years.

Florida's lagging on wages is more apparent when the latest increases are annualized. Florida employees lucky enough to be paid for a full 40 hours a week for 52 weeks would earn $16,848 this year, while minimum wage workers in Arizona would earn $20,800 — nearly $4,000 more in 2017.

The debate over minimum wage goes like this: Any minimum wage limits the ability of business to compete and hire more workers, especially those seeking their first jobs.

Others argue the current Florida minimum wage does not come close to providing a living wage. In the Sunshine State alone, 187,000 workers are paid the minimum wage, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

The average minimum wage among states above $7.25 is currently $8.90. That means Florida minimum wage workers now making $8.10 are being paid on average 9 percent less than their counterparts in states that have adopted minimum wages above $7.25.

By November 2020, as more planned increases go into effect, the average minimum wage in states above the federal level will reach $10.63. Barring sharp hikes ahead in inflation adjustments in Florida, that will leave minimum wage workers in this state even further behind.

How Florida minimum wage is falling behind

Among states with mechanisms to boost wages each year,

Florida is losing ground.

StateMin. wage 2017 vs. 2016Wage gain over one yearTotal annual pay
Florida$8.10, up 5 cents$104$16,848
Arizona$10, up $1.95$4,056$20,800
California*$10.50, up 50 cents$1,040$21,840
Illinois**$8.25, stays $8.25$0$17,160
Michigan $8.90, up 40 cents$832$18,512
Washington$11, up $1.53$3,182$22,880
Ohio$8.15, up 5 cents$104$16,952
New York***$9.70, up 70 cents$1,456$20,176
21 states****$7.25 federal min. wage$0$15,080
StateMin. wage 2017 vs. 2016Wage gain over one yearTotal annual pay
Florida$8.10, up 5 cents$104$16,848
Arizona$10, up $1.95$4,056$20,800
California*$10.50, up 50 cents$1,040$21,840
Illinois**$8.25, stays $8.25$0$17,160
Michigan $8.90, up 40 cents$832$18,512
Washington$11, up $1.53$3,182$22,880
Ohio$8.15, up 5 cents$104$16,952
New York***$9.70, up 70 cents$1,456$20,176
21 states****$7.25 federal min. wage$0$15,080

* For California business with 26 or more employees. Smaller firms remain at $10.

** No change for Illinois, but Chicago's wage is $10.50, rising 50 cents every July through 2019.

*** New York's minimum wage is higher in New York City and several nearby counties.

**** States lacking a minimum wage or with ones less than federal minimum must pay $7.25.

As more states set aggressive hikes in minimum wages, Florida pay starts to lag 01/10/17 [Last modified: Wednesday, January 11, 2017 1:01pm]
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