FL will see its first phase of the minimum wage boost — $10 an hour — on Thursday, Sept. 30

By ISSAC MORGAN , Florida Phoenix, Sept 29, 2021

Workers in Florida earning minimum wage will see a significant bump in pay on Thursday – from $8.65 to $10 an hour – the first phase of a wage hike connected to a constitutional amendment approved by voters in 2020.

Employers will be required under Florida law to pay their employees at least $10 per hour, which advocates say will help lift many low-wage workers out of poverty in Florida. Following the $10 boost, the figure will increase $1 each year on September 30, until the minimum wage reaches $15 in 2026.

The effort didn’t receive support from every industry.

The Florida-based NFIB, an association advocating small businesses, has been opposed to the minimum wage hikes. The group has said in the past on its website that:

“NFIB believes that market forces, not government regulation, should dictate the wages that employers must pay. Studies have shown that when the government artificially increases the minimum wage, employers are forced to do more with less which causes employers to lay off workers. While a higher minimum wage helps a few, others are pushed completely out of their jobs.”

Likewise, the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association, representing workers in the hospitality industry, has opposed the wage hikes because of concerns that could negatively impact employers struggling amid the COVID-19 pandemic.  The Florida Chamber of Commerce also has opposed the minimum wage increases.

But some small business owners believe the hike will provide an incentive for people to seek employment because of higher earnings, amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Danielle Ferrari is the owner of a clothing store called Valhalla Resale in Tampa. As a small business owner, Ferrari told the Florida Phoenix in a phone conversation that the wage increase will “stimulate our community.”

“As a small business owner, I am super excited,” she said. “No business should have to exploit anyone in order to survive.”

Leigh Anne Balzekas, co-owner of The Disco Dolls in Tampa, said in a written statement:

“Florida’s minimum wage increase is great news for small businesses. When people make more money, they can spend more in their local communities. And paying fair wages helps you attract and keep talented employees, which in turn helps businesses grow and thrive. When our employees are happy, our customers are happy.”

Voters passed Amendment 2 in November 2020 to boost the minimum wage in increments until it reaches $15 per hour in 2026. That initiative was pushed by attorney John Morgan through a political committee.

In 2020, the minimum wage was $8.56 an hour and it increased by only nine cents in January 2021, to $8.65, according to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity. Now it will jump to $10.

But the federal minimum wage has been stagnant over the years, with the current minimum wage of $7.25 per hour established in 2009, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Meanwhile, for workers earning tips their wages will see an increase as well, up from the previous $5.63 per hour.

According to the FRLA, Florida employers in the hospitality industry are allowed to receive a tip credit up to $3.02 per hour for tips earned by its workers. That means beginning Sept. 30, the minimum hourly wage for eligible tipped employees will be $6.98, which is $10 minus the tip credit.