Voters in Florida have chosen a ballot initiative that would raise workers’ minimum wage over the next several years.
According to the Florida Division of Elections, Floridians voted on Tuesday in favor of Amendment 2, a measure that would require the Sunshine State to raise its hourly minimum wage to $10 starting September 2021 and increase it annually by $1 per hour until the wage is $15 an hour by September 2026. (About 60.8% of voters marked “yes” on their ballots, while 39.2% voted “no.”)
The increase would nearly double Florida’s current minimum wage of $8.56 over the next few years, With the hike, it becomes the first state in the South to approve a $15 minimum wage and the first in the country to do so by ballot measure. It is also the eighth state to offer an eventual $15 per hour to workers.
It’s been more than a decade since Congressional leaders set the current federal minimum wage at $7.25. In July 2019, the Democratic-held House of Representatives passed the Raise the Wage Act, which aimed for a gradual increase in the minimum wage that would more than double it to $15 by 2025, as well as phase out the lower minimum wage paid to tipped workers. It was the first time since 2007 that the chamber moved to raise the minimum wage.
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However, the Republican-controlled Senate has yet to take up the legislation. Today, a total of 29 states boast higher pay floors than at the federal level — including California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York, as well as the District of Columbia, which already have a $15 minimum wage.
In a report that used a simulation model developed by Economic Policy Institute, the Florida Policy Institute shared that the boost is expected to impact about 2.5 million Floridians, or more than 26% of its workforce, who work in a variety of roles including as personal care aides, janitors and waiters, as well as delivery drivers and retail store workers.
Some fashion and footwear companies have individually set out to back the federal minimum wage hike with raises of their own: Last month, Walmart announced that it would increase wages for approximately 165,000 hourly associates across all of its stores in the U.S. While some workers at its Supercenters will receive $15 an hour, those who work at its auto care centers will take home a base pay increase of $1 or more per hour.
Big-box rival Target stepped up its own minimum hourly pay to $15 in July. Along with the bump from $13, the retailer offered a one-time cash bonus of $200 as recognition of the efforts put in by hourly front-line store and distribution center workers during the COVID-19 crisis. E-commerce giant Amazon also pays employees a minimum of $15 an hour.