• The $15 Minimum Wage Battle Spreads To Florida

    Florida took a huge step toward passing a $15 minimum wage Friday, with one House Democrat filing a bill to bring the issue up during the 2016 legislative session.

    The bill was introduced by Democratic state Rep. Victor Torres. As the local affiliate of CBS reports, the measure is identical to one introduced in the Senate last month by Democratic state Sen. Dwight Bullard. Since the measures are the same, if both pass as currently written, all they would need a signature from the governor.

    “Employers shall pay employees a minimum wage at an hourly rate of $15 for all hours worked in this state,” the measure states. “This act shall take effect January 1, 2017.”

    Currently the federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour but many states, cities and counties have gone well above it. Some cities have even gone as high as $15, with several others also considering such a jump. No state, however, has increased its minimum wage that much. New York state has decided to raise its minimum wage to $15 an hour but only for fast-food workers.

    The measures are likely to face a tough uphill battle. Both the state House and Senate have a Republican majority. Additionally Florida Gov. Rick Scott, as a Republican, is not expected to support the bill.

    The movement behind the $15 minimum wage has grown in popularity in the past year. It is led primarily by the labor movement and union-backed groups like Fight for $15. Seattle led the way in passing such an increase back in June 2014. San Francisco and Los Angeles followed not long after. Each local ordinance phased in the new wage over the course of several years.

    Supporters of the $15 minimum wage often claim it will help the poor and stimulate economic activity. They argue such an amount is the basic standard by which someone can live comfortably. Opponents, however, say such an increase will actually hurt the poor by limiting job opportunities.

    The benefits or negative outcomes of increasing the minimum wage usually depend on the study. Nevertheless, even the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) agrees any increase of the minimum wage will likely result in at least some job loss.

    The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) and The Heritage Foundation have both found employment opportunities for young and low-skilled workers are the worst hit. This also accounts for many the minimum wage is meant to help.

    Not all economists are in agreement about the negative impact of raising the minimum wage. A 2013 study from the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) found the impact on employment would be small at worst.

    Raising the minimum wage may not even be necessary to address poverty. The Illinois Policy Institute (IPI) found most workers are able to move beyond the minimum wage after only a year of employment.

    Americans for the most part overwhelmingly support raising the minimum wage. According to Gallup, upwards of 76 percent of people favor raising it to $9 an hour, while just 22 percent opposed the idea.

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