What You Need To Know About Amendment 2, Raising Florida’s Minimum Wage
Ballot summary: Raises minimum wage to $10.00 per hour effective September 30th, 2021. Each September 30th thereafter, minimum wage shall increase by $1.00 per hour until the minimum wage reaches $15.00 per hour on September 30th, 2026. From that point forward, future minimum wage increases shall revert to being adjusted annually for inflation starting September 30th, 2027.
Florida’s minimum wage is higher than the federal minimum wage. Nationally, the minimum wage is $7.25 an hour, and in Florida, the minimum wage is $8.56 an hour. One reason Florida’s current minimum wage is higher than the national floor is because in 2004, Florida voters approved putting a $6.15 minimum wage into the state constitution; afterwards, Florida’s minimum wage increased annually by inflation. Nationally, 29 states like Florida have a minimum wage higher than the federal minimum wage, while 21 states have a minimum wage that equals the federal minimum wage or no state minimum wage. Only nine states have a minimum wage above $12 an hour, and the District of Columbia is the only area with a $15 minimum wage. Check here for a table from the U.S. Department of Labor breaking down state minimum wages.
If 60% of voters approve Amendment 2, Florida’s minimum wage would be $10 per hour in 2021, increasing by one dollar an hour per year until it hits $15 in 2026. After that, it would rise by inflation.
The Florida Office of Economic and Demographic Research analyzed the impact a minimum wage boost would have on government budgets. That report estimates governments would have to pay $16 million more in wages in 2022. By 2027, when the minimum wage is $15 an hour, governments would pay an additional $540 million annually.
Orlando personal injury attorney John Morgan is the primary financial backer of Amendment 2.
Morgan and his law firms have donated more than $4.6 million to Florida for a Fair Wage, the sponsor of the amendment. Additionally, the Service Employees International Union donated more than $293,750 to the campaign, and the Southern Poverty Law Center donated $265,977. Overall, Florida for a Fair Minimum Wage raised $5.2 million.
In an interview, Morgan said raising Florida’s minimum wage is a moral and religious issue.
“Corporations like paying slave wages,” Morgan said. “We don't want to go down to the food bank and see all the people who are coming there in uniforms after work with their children to get free food. We don't want to see it.”
The pandemic seems to have increased support for boosting Florida’s minimum wage, with two thirds of surveyed voters supporting Amendment 2 - an increase from earlier polls.
The primary opposition to raising Florida’s minimum wage comes from the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association.
Florida FRLA President and CEO Carol Dover said increasing the minimum wage will decrease the total number of jobs, as restaurants will move toward automation to reduce jobs (think ordering kiosks).
Dover said one of the organization’s members found that the increase would cost them more than their entire profit margin.
“How much do you think, in a 2% to 3% profit margin industry, that we can raise prices? I mean, it's not possible.”
Dover said the minimum wage was never intended to be a living wage. It was intended to be a starting wage while people are training.
“It makes me sad that the people who get excited about it and think that this is going to be great for them might be the people that ultimately get hurt in it,” Dover said. "And I think that's a tragedy.”
Paul Wolfson is a Ph.D. economist Paul Wolfson, and author of What Does The Minimum Wage Do?, a book analyzing more than 200 academic studies of the impact of a minimum wage.
Wolfson said research through the mid 1990s showed that a 10 percent increase in minimum wage decreases teenage employment by about 1 to 3 percent. Newer research shows modest minimum wage hikes have no real impact on the total number of jobs, when you control for other variables.
But $15 an hour is not a modest increase.
“Well, that would be probably toward the high end, quite frankly,” Woflson said. “You’re coming close to doubling the minimum wage.”
Wolfson says it’s nearly impossible to know what the impact of a $15 minimum wage in Florida will be without better data. But one impact is certain.
“That isn’t to say we know the result is going to be bad. It’s very much that we don’t know what the result will be, other than the people who remain employed will be pocketing more money.”
The Florida Supreme Court approved putting Amendment 2 onto the 2020 ballot in this opinion. No groups filed legal arguments to try and block it.
This story is part of The State We’re In, an elections reporting initiative from WUSF and WMFE in Orlando. It’s produced in partnership with America Amplified, an initiative using community engagement to inform local journalism. It is supported by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. On Facebook, follow The State We’re In page and join the conversation in the group.
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