Low-income workers celebrating Florida's minimum wage hike

Posted at 4:50 PM, Nov 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-04 17:37:11-05

TAMPA, Fla. — Amendment two's passing means Florida's minimum wage will move to $15 an hour over the next five years.

But will it also lead to layoffs and higher prices like some business groups have been touting?

Many business owners say the higher minimum wage will force them to lay off employees, especially as they try and recover from the pandemic shutdowns.

But fast-food workers who are part of the "Fight for 15" group are celebrating and saying the higher income will help them get out of poverty.

Florida is the eighth state in the nation, first in the south, to raise its minimum wage to $15.

Right now, it's at $8.56.

The Florida Policy Institute says its research shows the increase will help one in four workers in the state.

“This will especially benefit women. Black and Latina Floridians. Employees in the service sector as we’ve heard. Immigrants as well who are over-represented in these low wage positions historically," said Alexis Davis with the Florida Policy Institute.

“Now it gives an opportunity for not only men but women alike to finally get raises they deserve and make a wage that they deserve. So this is such a monumental victory," said fast-food worker Alex Harris.

USF economics professor Chris Jones tells ABC Action News it will take years before we know the effects of passing Amendment two.

"Any time you set a higher "floor" on prices (in this case, the price of labor), the fundamental laws of economics teach us that you will run the risk of reducing demand for that commodity - in this case, the demand for workers," said Jones. "The real question becomes, does the price level in Florida over the next several years change to the degree that the minimum wage standards set forth in Amendment 2 really even matter? Will it really create a "living wage" for workers in Florida's service and retail sectors? Will it raise prices for goods and services, or force employers to mechanize away occupations that can be substituted with intelligent machines and advanced technology? The answers are most likely yes and no to all of those questions."


"Anyone who tells you today that they know how the passage of this amendment will impact the future of Florida's economy, I would trust that individual's insight about as much as I would have trusted pollsters to predict the outcome of the 2020 presidential election," added Jones. "Long story short, nobody who really understands economics knows what the future implications will be of that amendment passing. It could very well end up being much ado about nothing."