The Florida Minimum Wage: How Much Can It Really Buy, and How High Should It Be?

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In Florida and across the nation, there is much debate about the adequacy of the minimum wage. The federal minimum wage of $7.25 has not increased since July 2009, and has fallen by more than fifty cents in real terms since then. Adjusted for inflation, the current minimum wage is far below the federal minimum wage in effect from the late 1950s through the 1970s. Recognizing the inadequacy of the federal minimum wage, numerous states—including Florida—have set higher minimum wages for their residents.

In the past year, Florida state legislators have advanced legislation or promoted ballot initiatives that would raise the state’s minimum wage, now set at $8.05. To help inform the policy debate, this brief advances three arguments for raising the Florida minimum wage. First, the current wage is not high enough to lift many families with working parents out of poverty. Because of this, parents in Florida working at the current minimum wage and with incomes below the poverty line cannot access federal healthcare subsidies under the Affordable Care Act, leaving them without affordable health insurance if they lack employer-provided coverage. Finally, the state minimum wage is also far too low to offset important work-related expenses such as child care, serving as a disincentive for a second parent in a two-parent family to increase his or her working hours.

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