Florida businesses brace for minimum wage hike

At midnight Thursday the minimum wage will jump from $8.65 an hour to $10 an hour and tipped workers will see hourly wages rise from $5.63 to $6.98.
Published: Sep. 29, 2021 at 6:31 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - At midnight Thursday the minimum wage will jump from $8.65 an hour to $10 an hour and tipped workers will see hourly wages rise from $5.63 to $6.98.

The pay raise is being applauded by labor groups, but business groups fear it will add additional strain to employers still recovering from pandemic hardships.

The wage hike is the first step of a constitutional mandate to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2026.

The first jump will be the largest the state has ever seen, and that has business groups worried jobs could be on the line.

“60 to 100,000 jobs almost immediately could go away,” said Dr. Jerry Parrish with the Florida Chamber Foundation.

Dr. Parrish told us entry level jobs are the most likely to be impacted.

“And it’s going to make it much more difficult for people with low skills. They’re going to pay the biggest price here,” said Parrish.

But Dr. Rich Templin with the Florida AFL-CIO told us he heard similar doom-and-gloom predictions when the minimum wage was raised in the past.

“Nothing terrible happened. We didn’t see a loss of jobs,” said Templin.

The Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association argued things are different this time, especially with the industry still recovering from lockdowns and other strains inflicted by the pandemic.

“We hope that we see Florida’s restaurant industry continue to survive and thrive, but there is reason to be concerned right now,” said the association’s General Council, Samantha Padgett.

Supporters of the minimum wage hike assert the increased wages will be a boom for the economy as a whole.

“The more money you can put in the hands of consumers, the better we all do,” said Templin.

But Dr. Parrish is worried in an economy already seeing costs rise from inflation, a wage hike could compound the problem.

“Certainly prices are gonna go up,” said Parrish.

Lawmakers are already looking for ways to soften the economic blow.

A State Senator filed a joint resolution just hours before the wage hike, that would allow the Legislature to set a training wage, lower than the minimum wage set in the constitution.

Under the resolution employees could only be paid the lower training wage for their first six months on the job.

If approved by the Legislature, the proposal would then need 60 percent voter approval in the 2022 election.

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