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Minimum Wage Increases to $7.31 an Hour

May 31st, 2011 by Anna Laura Rehwinkel

Tomorrow 188-thousand of the state’s lowest paid workers will get a pay raise. Florida’s minimum wage is increasing six cents to $7.31 an hour. As Whitney Ray tells us, business owners say the increase comes at a bad time.

At Barnacle Bills seafood restaurant in Tallahassee, much like eateries throughout the state, shipping costs are up and fewer hungry patrons are coming through the doors…

And starting Wednesday the state is forcing owner Jeff Stilwell to give much of his staff a pay raise.

“A worker will make what they’re worth. Nobody pays someone who is valuable to them minimum wage,” said Jeff.

Florida’s minimum wage is increasing from 7.25 to 7.31 an hour. Waiters will see their hourly wages increase four cents to 4.29. Jeff has 15 waiters and says they already make good tip money. Raising their pay will leave Jeff with less money to pay the rest of his staff.

“A good server will make quiet a bit of money, a good cook can only make as much money as you can afford to pay them,” said Jeff.

188-thousand Floridians work for minimum wage. The increase means an extra 128 dollars a year for those workers. Economists with the Florida Center for Fiscal and Economic Policy say the increase isn’t much but it will help some.

“It could be the difference between being able to take a child to the doctor or being able to get medication for the child,” said Alan Stonecipher, a spokesman with the center.

The increase comes from a constitutional amendment passed by voters in 2004 that ties minimum wage to inflation. The state tried to pass a smaller increase, but a Florida Judge ruled it unconstitutional. Governor Rick Scott decided not to challenge the judge’s decision. He fears future increases will hurt Florida’s job market.

“If it continues to go up and other states have lower minimum wages it would impact our ability to be able to create jobs,” said Scott.

While the minimum wage can go up with inflation, deflation won’t bring it down. In the past Florida’s minimum wage has stayed below the federal minimum wage of $7.25… so employers had to pay the higher federal wage. Now that Florida’s wage has increased, employers will have to honor the state’s wage.

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