Florida’s Minimum Wage Rises

Inflation clause kicks rate up to $7.67 an hour

BOCA RATON, Fla. -- Minimum-wage earners in Florida will get a raise Jan. 1 when a mandated 36-cent bump in Florida's minimum wage kicks in, raising minimum in the state $7.67 an hour from $7.31, according to a report in the Sun Sentinel. The state rate must keep pace with inflation, due to a constitutional amendment passed in 2004.

For workers, the uptick in Florida's minimum hourly wage is welcome news to help meet increased living costs, but some employers say it could prompt them to cut workers' hours or automate more work.

Only about 253,000 workers in Florida earn the minimum wage, mostly at restaurants, bars, retail stores and some startup companies, according to the state workforce agency, as reported by the newspaper. For employees who regularly receive tips, businesses will be required to pay $4.65 an hour in 2012, with the remainder made up in tips.

"Most employers are already paying higher than the minimum wage," said Rebecca Rust, chief economist for the state agency.

Phil Gray, owner of six McDonald’s restaurants, told the newspaper the increased minimum wage won't affect his hiring plans. "It's not a big impact. I still need to hire another 20 [people]," he said.

But Paul Flanigan, co-owner of several Quarterdeck restaurants in South Florida, said he may have to cut hours slightly to keep his payroll expenses in check in the new year.

"Wages go up, but their hours go down," said Flanigan, who said the restaurant job is a second job for many of his workers; they don't depend on it for a living. "Minimum wage is not a living wage," he said.