The good and the bad of FL’s new bump in the minimum wage


In a boost for millions of low-paid hourly workers, 20 states increased the minimum wage for 2019, including Florida.

The good news: Florida’s minimum wage increased from $8.25 to $8.46 starting Jan. 1, a 21-cent increase in hourly pay.

The bad news: Florida’s new minimum wage stood out as the lowest of the 20 states that saw increases, according to data from the nonprofit Economic Policy Institute based in Washington, D.C.

California and Massachusetts, for example, pushed their state minimum wage to $12 per hour, up from $11 the year before. The state of Washington also pushed the minimum wage to $12, with a 50-cent increase.

Colorado boosted its minimum wage to $11.10, and Arizona and Maine pushed their minimum wages to $11.00.

Almost all the increases kicked in with the New Year. New York’s boost came on Dec. 31, 2018, and Michigan’s increase won’t launch until April 2019, according to the policy institute.

For Florida workers, the bump in the minimum wage falls short, according to the SEIU Florida union that represents thousands of public employees, healthcare professionals and others.

The union’s recent Facebook post said: “Florida’s hourly minimum wage goes up 21 cents today to $8.46. That is nowhere near enough for someone to make ends meet. It is time for a true living wage of $15 an hour in our state.”

The union earlier said in a news release that a 21-cent increase in the minimum age in 2019 “still leaves a full-time worker well below the federal poverty Line, especially with Florida’s lack of affordable housing.”

Those low wages will present challenges for Gov.-elect Ron DeSantis, who said during his gubernatorial campaign that he is “committed to bring higher-paying jobs to Florida” adding, that “Florida should be on the short list of every major new plant being considered anywhere in this hemisphere, and small mom-and-pops should feel confident that they can build and grow from a base in Florida.”


Diane Rado
Diane Rado has covered state and local government and public schools in six states over some 30 years, focusing on policy and investigative stories as well as legislative and political reporting. She spent most of her career at the St. Petersburg (Tampa Bay) Times and the Chicago Tribune. She has a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and did a fellowship in education reform at the University of Michigan in 1999-2000. She is married to a journalist and has three adult children.


  1. The new minimum wage in Florida is not below the poverty level for full-time workers in single household families and falls just above it for households of 2. It is below the poverty level for households of more than two.

  2. Gee. To put things into perspective for licensed laboratory workers who had to go to school, pay for an education, and work in the field for over 23 years, if our true living wage should be $15 per hour then even with that experience we’re still very low paid. Sad. So sad that getting that education and being the major breadwinner, I’m just surviving.


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