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In Florida, Labor Not Doing Well This Labor Day

Flickr / elycefeliz

Labor Day was created to celebrate the country’s labor movement and its social and economic achievements, but a new study from FIU’s Research Institute on Social and Economic Policy (RISEP) may dampen some of this year’s celebration.

This year’s 11th installment of The State of Florida Workers Report looked at how wages in the state have changed since 1980. Overall, wages have been fairly stagnant for the past three decades, but like national trends, the gap between the rich and the poor has increased over time in Florida.

Adjusted for inflation, the top 25 percent highest-earning workers earned almost 50 percent more since 1980. The lowest quarter, meanwhile, saw their wages increase less than 15 percent.

Ali Bustamante, a researcher with RISEP, says despite the bleak outlook overall, there were a few positive findings.

“We’ve seen, particularly in terms of women and African-Americans, [they’ve] made considerable wage gains,” Bustamante says. “They’ve closed the gap between either males or between the Anglo population, which is ultimately going to, and has already, affected their social mobility over the past 30 years.”

But there is still a lot of work to be done, he says, to continue closing those gaps. Women in Florida make about $10,000 less than their male counterparts and the poverty rate for black Floridians is 18 percent higher than white Floridians.

Some other finding from the report:

-Since 1985, the lowest paying industries in Florida remained consistent. The worst paying industries include private household services, food services and drinking places, agriculture, textile and apparel manufacturing, personal services, retail trade, accommodations, and social services. -The lowest paying industries in Florida have historically paid a median annual wage below $30,000 and below $20,000 in the case of private household services and food services and drinking places. -Since the early 2000s, professional and technical services, computer manufacturing, and internet service industries have emerged as some of the highest paying industries in Florida. -In 1980, the bottom 25% of wage earners was mainly female (68%), white (64%), native-­‐ born (83%), and with a high school education or less (77%).