New year, new Florida minimum wage

Photo credit: MGN Online

As 2018 begins, the State of Florida is unleashing a new set of laws.

One new law increases the Sunshine State’s minimum wage rate by 15 cents, changing the salary from $8.10 an hour to $8.25 an hour. Florida’s minimum wage rate of $8.25 is higher than 22 other states, and it is a dollar more than the national standard of $7.25.

But this change was approved over a decade ago.

In 2004, Florida voters approved the Consumer Price Index, which measures changes in the price level of consumer goods and services . According to Florida economic officials, the minimum wage rate is constantly changing because of changes in the index.

“Florida law requires the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity to calculate a minimum wage rate each year,” said Tiffany Vause, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity's Director of Communications and External Affairs.

The annual minimum wage is calculated based on the percentage increase in the federal Consumer Price Index.

Due to the change in the Index, the 2018 minimum wage increased, making some people excited to earn extra cash.

Dajuh Sawyer, a Florida A&M University political science senior from St. Petersburg, Fla., works at the local Cracker Barrel and was happy to hear about the minimum wage increase.

“I’m a server. I only get paid about $5.25 an hour, and I make tips. So I feel the increase will affect my pay in a positive way,” Sawyer said.

Many students, like Sawyer, in Tallahassee work minimum wage jobs to help pay for school or their living expenses. But with school tuition and other costs of living, a 15-cent raise may not make much of a difference.

For a full-time employee working a minimum wage job, the 15-cent increase equates to about 300 extra dollars for the year.

“I’m grateful for every increase,” Sawyer said. “But I do believe that it should have went up to at least $8.75 or $9. Everything is going up, so I think it would be beneficial to meet everyday workers in the middle.”

The concept of doing what is best for the workers is also important to David Miller. Miller is a FAMU junior mechanical engineering student from Orange Park, Fla. who makes minimum wage working at the Donald L. Tucker Civic Center. Miller believes the rate should be $10 an hour.

“[The change] doesn’t really affect my earnings much, but I think it’s a step in the right direction,” Miller said.

There are people working on taking even more steps toward a higher minimum wage.

Florida attorney John Morgan is pushing for an almost seven-dollar increase in minimum wage. According to Politico, Morgan and University of Florida law professor Jon Mills created “Florida for a Fair Wage”, a political committee planning to write up a living wage constitutional amendment.

Per the amendment, the Florida minimum wage will raise to $10 an hour then goes up every year until it is $15 an hour.

Morgan has many supporters, including minimum wage workers who desire for a pay increase. However, there are also cons to an increased minimum wage rate.

A study done by the University of Washington showed that the State of Washington’s $15 minimum wage rate may have contributed to some minimum wage workers getting their hours cut.

Similarly, the Employment Policies Institute surveyed 300 Florida businesses during the summer of 2017 about a possible $15 minimum wage rate. Nearly 70 percent of the companies said they would have to terminate employers and/or raise prices in response to a raise in pay rate.

The debate regarding how high to make the minimum wage rate is ongoing. For now, Department of Economic Opportunity will continue to calculate the rate annually based off the Consumer Price Index.