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Center for American Progress

Economic Analysis of Florida Minimum Wage Proposal

Economic Analysis of Florida Minimum Wage Proposal

Click here to download the full Economic Analysis of Florida Minimum Wage Proposal (84 page PDF report)

On the November 2004 ballot, citizens of Florida will have the opportunity to vote on a proposal to raise the statewide minimum wage to $6.15 per hour. At present, the federal minimum wage, which prevails in Florida, is $5.15 per hour. The measure also calls for tipped workers getting a raise from the current federal mandate of $2.13 to $3.13. The measure includes an automatic cost-of-living adjustment, by which further raises in the statewide minimum wage would occur automatically at the national inflation rate. If Florida voters approve this measure, Florida will become the 13th state in the country to operate with a minimum wage above the federal minimum.

Motivation for Proposal

The federal minimum wage has fallen by nearly 40 percent from its peak in 1968 (in inflation adjusted dollars) of $8.49. At present, someone who works full-time for 52 weeks at the $5.15 federal minimum would earn $10,712, an amount that is 28 percent below the 2003 federal poverty threshold for a family of three. Families experience real hardship when the working members of the family are employed at jobs paying close to the $5.15 minimum wage. For example, nearly 30 percent of families with incomes at twice the poverty line or lower faced hardships such as missing meals, being evicted from their housing, having their utilities disconnected, or doubling up on housing.

Main Findings from Research


  • The primary costs of the measure will be those incurred by businesses that will pay the increased wages to the low-wage workers they employ. Businesses will face two kinds of wage increases:
    – Legally mandated wage increases for workers now earning between $5.15 and $6.14, and tipped workers now earning between $2.13 and $3.12; and
    – So-called “ripple effect” wage increases – non-mandated raises that businesses voluntarily provide to some of their workers after the higher minimum wage rate is implemented. (Economic Analysis of the Florida Minimum Wage Proposal)
  • We estimate the total costs of the measure – including all mandated and ripple-effect raises, as well as increases in payroll taxes, for all Florida enterprises, both private businesses and government operations – as $443 million. For private businesses, costs will rise by a total of $406 million.
  • The $406 million in cost increases for private businesses amounts to 0.04 percent of the total sales of these businesses, which was $928.7 billion in 2003. The average firm in Florida would therefore have to increase its revenues by 1/25th of 1 percent to fully cover the costs of the minimum wage increase to $6.15.
  • The ratio of cost increases/sales will vary widely by industry. The industry with the highest cost increase/sales is the restaurant industry, where the representative firm will face a cost increase of 0.7 percent of sales. With limited-service restaurants, including fast-food outlets, the cost increase/sales ratio is 1.3 percent.

Methods of Business Adjustment to Minimum Wage Increase

  • The primary way that businesses are likely to adjust to these cost increases is to raise their prices by small amounts.
    – A representative retail clothing store would face a cost increase of 0.05 percent of its sales. It could fully cover its increased costs by, for example, raising the price of a $20 sweatshirt to $20.01.
    – A representative restaurant would have to raise the price of a $20 meal to $20.14 to cover its increased costs of 0.7 percent of sales.
    – A representative hotel would have to raise the price of a room from, for example, $100 to $100.20 to cover its increased costs of 0.2 percent of sales.
  • Businesses will also be able to absorb some of their increased costs through increasing productivity. Productivity should rise by a small amount with the wage increases, because workers should become more committed to their jobs. This will lower turnover and absenteeism, and more generally raise morale.
  • Regarding prospects for negative “unintended consequences” resulting from business adjustments to the minimum wage increase, three possibilities have been frequently raised:
    – Unemployment: Businesses lay off workers, creating unemployment;
    – Relocation: To avoid having to increase wages for low-wage workers, businesses in Florida relocate out of the state, or out-of-state firms choose not to locate in Florida.
    – Inflation: With businesses raising prices to cover their increased costs, an inflationary spiral could result.
  • Our results show that these negative “unintended consequences” are very unlikely to occur to any significant extent. This is, again, because businesses will be able to absorb their cost increases through modest price and productivity gains. They will not need to resort to more extensive measures – layoffs or relocations – that are costly for the businesses themselves. Moreover, precisely because the upward price pressures will be modest, they will not encourage inflation, which would mean a significant rise in all prices throughout the state.
  • Regarding employment effects, we also analyze the experience from other states that have recently raised their statewide minimum wage relative to states that operated with the lower federal minimum wage. We find that employment growth in high minimum wage states did not fall in relative terms after they raised their minimum wage.

Benefits of Minimum Wage Increase

Benefits to Workers

  • Roughly 300,000 workers earning between $5.15 and $6.14 or, for tipped workers $2.13 and $3.12, will receive mandated wage increases. The average pay for $5.15 – $6.14 workers is now $5.73, so their average mandated raise will be 42 cents/hour to bring them to $6.15. This is an average mandated raise of 7.3 percent for the un-tipped workers.
  • About 550,000 workers will receive “ripple effect” increases.
    – Those earning between $6.15 and $6.99 will receive, on average, a 6.3 percent raise.
    – Those earning between $7.00 and $7.49 will receive, on average, a 2.2 percent raise.
  • Low-wage workers and their families will enjoy increases in disposable income of between $500 and $600.
    – This is an average disposable income gain of about 4 percent for families currently living below 150 percent of the official poverty thresholds.
    – It is an average disposable income gain of about 2.6 percent for families currently living below what we define as a “basic needs” living standard, measured relative to expenditures on necessities.
    – This increase in disposable income will produce modest benefits, such as enabling the family to reduce debt, reduce work hours or purchase a car.
    – It is significant that this improvement results through an increase in earned income rather than government subsidies. In terms of dignity and commitment to work, most low-income workers value a dollar of earned income more highly than a dollar of government support.

Benefits to Business

  • Retail stores in the state’s low-income neighborhoods will experience an increase in sales, reflecting the increased disposable income of workers and their families living in these neighborhoods.
    – For low-income neighborhoods in Miami, we estimate that retail businesses will experience a sales increase of about 3 percent. (Economic Analysis of the Florida Minimum Wage Proposal)

Fiscal Impact Estimate

  • There are five potential areas of fiscal impact:
    – Three will create increased costs for the state: 1) wage increases for state employees; 2) cost pass-throughs from state goods and service suppliers; and 3) administrative costs of implementing the law.
    – Two will provide either more revenues or lower expenditures for the state: 1) increased sales tax revenue; and 2) publicly subsidized health care cost savings.
  • Overall, we estimate roughly a net fiscal savings of $3.4 million. And while this is a very rough estimate, it is clear that there are no significant net fiscal costs to the measure.

Effect of Automatic Cost-of-Living Adjustments

  • Linking future increases in the minimum wage to inflation – i.e. providing an automatic cost of- living adjustment – will have no impact on our analysis of the effect of the measure.
  • Without an automatic cost-of-living adjustment, all of the costs and benefits that we identify would diminish with time.

Click here to download the full 84 page PDF report

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