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Study: A shrinking middle class in Florida means more economic polarization

A report being released today says the percentage of Floridians earning less than $15 an hour has risen. In this April 2015 photo, protestors in front of a McDonald’s on N. Dale Mabry Highway in Tampa north of Interstate 275 are calling for higher pay. [SKIP O’ROURKE  |   Times]
A report being released today says the percentage of Floridians earning less than $15 an hour has risen. In this April 2015 photo, protestors in front of a McDonald’s on N. Dale Mabry Highway in Tampa north of Interstate 275 are calling for higher pay. [SKIP O’ROURKE | Times]
Published Sep. 12, 2016

Florida is becoming more economically polarized between the have-plenties and the have-very littles.

There's been a sizable increase in the percentage of wealthier Floridians, with many in the middle class able to improve their financial condition since the end of the Great Recession. But the ranks of the middle class itself are shrinking. And the share of workers in the lowest-income "working class" has remained unchanged, with many stuck in perpetually low-wage occupations without a clear path upward.

Those are among the conclusions drawn from Florida International University's annual State of Working Florida report coming out today.

This year's report concentrates on lowest-wage earners — which Florida International characterizes as "working class" — and their problems with economic mobility.

The five main occupations for lower wage workers are sales; food preparation and service; office and administrative support; building and ground cleaning and maintenance; and transportation and material moving jobs.

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