MIAMI – Minimum wage workers have something to be happy about for the New Year.
Starting Wednesday, the minimum wage was boosted 14 cents to $7.93 per hour and the increase will benefit an estimated 416,000 low-wage workers in the state.
The minimum wage for tipped workers in Florida also increased 14 cents to $4.91 per hour.
Florida’s minimum wage increase was the result of a ballot initiative approved by voters in 2004. The measures provides for annual rate adjustments to keep pace with the rising cost of living.
In total, 13 states increased their minimum wage pay at the start of the new year. The increase is expected to generate over $62.7 million in new economic activity. It will also support the creation of 4,600 new full-time jobs as businesses expand to meet increased consumer demand.
Florida was joined by Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington in wage increases. New Jersey had the highest increase in pay, raising the new wage by $1.00.
“As Congress drags its feet on raising the federal minimum wage, more and more Americans are earning poverty-level wages in expanding industries like retail and fast food,” said Christine Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project. “In the face of federal inaction, states are boosting the paychecks of the lowest-paid workers, promoting growth and consumer spending, and hopefully providing an example for Congress to follow.”
Because the federal minimum wage is not indexed to rise with inflation, its real value erodes every year unless Congress approves an increase.
The Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013, supported by President Obama and introduced in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives earlier this year, would help recover much of this lost value by raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour and adjusting it annually to keep pace with the rising cost of living.
The Fair Minimum Wage Act would also gradually raise the minimum wage for tipped workers from its current low rate of $2.13 per hour, where it has been frozen since 1991, to 70 percent of the full minimum wage.