Just in time for Labor Day, a new report finds that Florida’s minimum wage is less than half what workers need to cover basic expenses.
The report, titled “Families Out Of Balance,” comes from the Alliance for a Just Society, a Seattle-based advocacy group. It finds that a single adult in Florida should make about $16.98 an hour to pay for necessities like rent and utilities. That’s more than double the state’s minimum wage of $7.93.
“If people working in the state of Florida aren’t able to make a living wage, they’re also not able to contribute to the economy,” says Damien Filer, spokesman for the advocacy group Organize Now. “It really doesn’t work to just have a society where we have ‘haves’ and ‘have nots.’ We have to have a vibrant middle class and people who are able to work hard and see the benefits of that.”
Florida is actually better than most states when it comes to minimum wage. The state rate is 68 cents higher than the federal rate of $7.25.
The Families Out of Balance report also recommended Florida adopt a statewide policy for Earned Sick Time. The days off might not be paid, but workers wouldn't be punished for calling in sick.
Ashley Rogers, a single mom of three, says her $32,000 income at an Orlando bank was recently cut in half after she took sick leave.
“My hours at my job have been cut due to myself and my children being ill and not enough earned sick time being available to care for my children,” Rogers says, although she does acknowledge that her employer was already laying off workers at that time.
The report also recommends expanding access to healthcare for more than a million Floridians who earn too much to get Medicaid but can’t afford insurance.