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Labor Day study says wage inequality still a big problem for Florida

With roughly 800 new residents added to the population every day, Florida has re-emerged as a growth state enjoying falling unemployment rates and a swelling workforce.

But a study released Sunday by Florida International University indicates that one of the state's financial millstones — income inequality — persists as a drag on its overall economic vibrancy.

Among the many intriguing numbers inside the "State of Working Florida 2015" report from FIU's Center for Labor Research and Studies are these two: 39.5 percent and negative 7.1 percent. The first represents real income growth for the top 1 percent of wage-earners in Florida between 2009 and 2012; the second is the drop in real income growth for the bottom 99 percent over the same time.

The annual Labor Day study, which also involved work by the Research Institute for Social and Economic Policy, also found:

• Wages of the top 10 percent grew 25 times faster than low-wage earners between 2001 and 2014.

• In 1980, there was a disparity of $39,966 between wages of the top 10 percent and bottom 10 percent. By 2014, that gap had grown to $62,840, a 64 percent increase.

• Since 2001, the median wage in Florida has grown at an average annual rate of 2.4 percent from $23,337 to $31,567.

• Most of that wage growth was concentrated during the real estate boom between 2001 and 2008.

"For working Floridians, wages and salaries do not only determine their financial and economic status; but ultimately determines how much they contribute back to the general economic health of the state," FIU researchers said in their analysis.

"A low wage translates into lower purchasing power, which means less money to spend on food, housing, health care, transportation, and many other resources … Likewise, low wages directly contribute to weak and slow-growing economies."

Contact Jeff Harrington at jharrington@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8242. Follow @JeffMHarrington.

Labor Day study says wage inequality still a big problem for Florida 09/06/15 [Last modified: Sunday, September 6, 2015 9:33pm]
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