Voters in Florida tossed their outdated $8.56 per hour minimum wage in this election as the state became the eighth in the country to adopt a $15 minimum wage. Like many other states, Florida will introduce the raise slowly, upping it to $10 next year and raising it by $1 each year until it reaches $15 in 2026.
The minimum wage adjustment will affect an estimated 2.5 million workers in Florida. That’s more than a quarter of the state’s workforce. The state’s last minimum wage increase was in 2004 when it was raised to $6.15 per hour. Subsequent increases have been in accordance with inflation.
This change comes at a time when many minimum wage workers are struggling to make ends meet amidst the pandemic. Although critics of the policy argue that the raised wages will put additional pressures on businesses, supporters state that higher wages among the state’s most vulnerable populations will boost economic recovery in the wake of the pandemic.
The embrace of a more progressive minimum wage brings Florida in line with other states that have passed gradual wage raises as the federal minimum wage remains stubbornly low at a rate of $7.25 per hour. States with higher costs of living, like California, New York, and Connecticut were among the first to pass minimum wage hikes. With Florida adopting a higher minimum wage, it could spur more states to follow suit.