Florida Minimum Wage 2012
January 2, 2012 by staff
That is good news for the 253,000 Florida workers who were earning at or below minimum wage, according to 2010 numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Thousands earning slightly more also will benefit as businesses bump up their pay in line with their current wage structures.
The additional pay likely will be injected back into local economies since low-wage earners tend to spend what they make.
Some business groups say minimum wage increases mean fewer jobs, however, as the added cost per employee means they cannot fill as many jobs.
Florida voters approved a constitutional amendment in 2004 creating Florida’s minimum wage, starting at $1 above the federal minimum wage of $5.15 in 2005 with subsequent increases tied to inflation.
By 2009, the federal minimum wage overtook Florida’s formula, and the wages were equal at $7.25 for 2009 through 2011.
A circuit court judge this year agreed with groups representing workers that the formula used by what is now the Department of Economic Opportunity could not lower the Florida base minimum wage when the cost of living falls. The judge granted a 6-cent raise to $7.31 starting in June.
Employees who work for tips also will receive a 36-cent-an-hour direct wage increase to $4.65.
The federal minimum wage will still be $7.25 an hour in 2012.
Bob Walther of Wal-Staf Personnel Services said they discourage Wal-Staf’s clients from paying minimum wage if they want to find someone who can do the job.
“It’s hard to live on minimum wage, so it’s hard for anybody to accept minimum wage,” he said. “Unfortunately, even with jobs that aren’t minimum wage, we hear sometimes, ‘I can make more money on unemployment than that.’ ”
The 253,000 Floridians at or below minimum wage last year represented 7 percent of all hourly wage earners in Florida.
The U.S. had 4.4 million people at or below the minimum, or 6 percent of hourly earners. Including salaried workers, the lowest pay level makes up just 3.5 percent of the nation’s workforce.
The number of people at or below the minimum steadily dropped after reaching a high of 7.8 million in 1981, reaching a low of 1.7 million in 2006 before jumping every year since to 4.4 million last year.
The low-wage earners are concentrated at the lower age groups when people are starting their work lives, with 49 percent younger than 25 and 68 percent younger than 35. The ratio goes down with each subsequent age group.
By job sector, 57 percent are in service occupations, including 39 percent in food preparation and serving jobs. Another 17 percent are in sales and related jobs.
By education level, 30 percent did not graduate from high school, and 30 percent have no more than a high school diploma.
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