Make us your home page
Instagram

Wage gains are positive trend, at a minimum

In this final column of 2008, let's focus on six escalating numbers. In this economy, at least something's going up!

$6.15

$6.40

$6.67

$6.79

$7.21

$7.25

These are — or soon will be — the mandatory minimum wages paid Floridians since a law took effect in 2005, setting $6.15 an hour as the state's minimum.

The wage figures have risen annually based on the consumer price index. Four years later, employers now pay a minimum of $6.79 an hour. Come Thursday, Jan. 1, the minimum rises again to $7.21.

That figure stands only until July 4. That's when a federal minimum wage of $7.25 kicks in. Florida employers must then pay the new federal minimum by raising their hourly wage by 4 cents.

That's amounts to a total increase of $1.10 per hour since the first Florida minimum wage was set in 2005.

As long as the state minimum wage topped the long-standing federal minimum wage of $5.15 an hour, Florida businesses paid the higher state wage.

Come July, the new federal minimum of $7.25 outpaces the state's $7.21.

At first glance, these minimum wage gains look pretty sweet. Given the suffering economy, plenty of folks work at companies where wages are frozen or rising at a slower pace than the minimum wage.

Going from the current $6.79 an hour to $7.21 on Thursday is a 6.2 percent raise. I won't see that gain in my paycheck come Thursday. I suspect most readers won't.

Now some business groups claim the rising mandatory minimum wage is the root of much evil and is even a major culprit for the increasing national and Florida unemployment rates. One anti-minimum-wage group in Washington called the Employment Policies Institute argues last year's mandatory hike caused increased job loss in Florida, especially among more vulnerable groups.

I could argue that the modest increases in minimum pay help those who received those wages to defray some pretty sharp increases in basic living expenses, from rent to electricity. Let's play along for now and look at these wages over an entire year.

In 2005, a $6.15 hourly wage paid an annual paycheck of $12,792. Come July, the $7.25 hourly wage translates to a $15,080 annual paycheck. That's a difference of $2,288, or 18 percent, stretched over 41/2 years.

It's all a bit funny. Most people, even those just starting out, already earn more than the minimum wage.

Most businesses that gripe about the rising minimum wage run restaurants that require bundles of low-wage workers. Tampa's Outback Steakhouse chain has long fought against the raises.

But many others specify in SEC filings that rising minimum wages in Florida and other states remain one of their biggest cost increases.

In December alone, chains ranging from BJ's and Landry's to Steak & Shake and Bob Evans all blame rising minimum wages for rising costs.

It's unfortunate timing that the $7.25 federal minimum wage takes effect in mid 2009, just when experts say the economy should start to turn.

For now, the rising minimum wage is a positive trend. Let's just make sure it stays that way in the years ahead.

Robert Trigaux can be reached at trigaux@sptimes.com.

Wage gains are positive trend, at a minimum 12/29/08 [Last modified: Thursday, January 1, 2009 1:48am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rick Scott appoints 'my friend,' Jimmy Patronis, as Florida CFO

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott on Monday appointed a long-time friend and political supporter, Jimmy Patronis, to replace Jeff Atwater as Florida's next chief financial officer, making him one of three members of the Cabinet that sets state policy on a wide range of issues. He'll take over Friday.

    Rick Scott appoints Jimmy Patronis (background) as CFO. [STEVE BOUSQUET | Tampa Bay Times]
  2. Local gas prices plummet as Fourth of July holiday travel approaches

    Tourism

    TAMPA — Local gas prices are enjoying an unseasonal dip around the $2 mark just in time for the hectic Fourth of July holiday travel weekend.

    The price of regular unleaded gasoline has dropped to $1.99 at a Rally station on Pasadena Ave. South and Gulfport Boulevard South, South Pasadena.
[SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]

  3. Air bag recalls, lawsuits lead Takata to file for bankruptcy

    Autos

    Shattered by recall costs and lawsuits, Japanese air bag maker Takata Corp. filed Monday for bankruptcy protection in Tokyo and the U.S., saying it was the only way it could keep on supplying replacements for faulty air bag inflators linked to the deaths of at least 16 people.

    Japanese air bag maker Takata Corp. CEO Shigehisa Takada bows during a press conference in Tokyo on Monday. Takata has filed for bankruptcy protection in Tokyo and the U.S., overwhelmed by lawsuits and recall costs related to its production of defective air bag inflators.
[(AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi]
  4. Airbag maker Takata bankruptcy filing expected in Japan, U.S.

    Corporate

    DETROIT — Japanese airbag maker Takata Corp. has filed for bankruptcy protection in Tokyo and the U.S., overwhelmed by lawsuits and recall costs related to its production of faulty air bag inflators.

  5. Federal agencies demand records from SeaWorld theme park

    Tourism

    ORLANDO — Two federal agencies are reportedly demanding financial records from SeaWorld.

    Killer whales Ikaika and Corky participate in behaviors commonly done in the wild during SeaWorld's Killer Whale educational presentation in this photo from Jan. 9. SeaWorld has been subpoenaed by two federal agencies for comments that executives and the company made in August 2014 about the impact from the "Blackfish" documentary. 
[Nelvin C. Cepeda/San Diego Union-Tribune/TNS]