Florida is not such a great place for workers, new study finds


  • Photo by Monivette Cordeiro
Surprising no one who has worked for chump change in Florida's billion-dollar tourism industry, a new study ranks the state toward the bottom in Oxfam America's "Best States to Work" index as 37th in the nation.

Florida's minimum wage of $8.25 per hour is slightly higher than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. But a person working full time under the state's minimum wage only makes about 32 percent of the living wages needed to support a family of four. The Oxfam index indicates that a full-time worker supporting a family of four in Florida would need to earn $25.87 in 2018.

Most states that ranked below Florida were all in the Southeast, including Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Virginia.

The report from the anti-poverty organization also noted that municipal governments in the Sunshine State don't have the ability to raise the local minimum wage. While Florida does mandate equal pay across gender and race and provides some form of sexual harassment protection, the state lacks in key protections, like paid family family, paid sick leave, protections for workplace breastfeeding and requiring employers to provide workers with advance notice of shift scheduling.

The state also has "right-to-work" laws that bans employers and unions from requiring workers to pay union dues and prohibits public employees from going on strike. The report states positively, though, that collective bargaining is available for teachers, police officers and firefighters. Florida is also an "at-will" state, which means employers have the right to terminate you at any time without advance notice.

States with higher index scores have "longer life expectancy and lower infant mortality rates," according to Oxfam America. Florida's policies for workers are more important now than ever in a time when the federal government "consistently [refuses] to consider legislation that would improve circumstances for low-wage workers," the report said.

"The federal minimum wage has been stuck at the poverty level of $7.25 for nearly 10 years," the organization said in its report. "In this economic climate, states are making moves to keep workers and their families out of poverty, and to give them a decent chance. For example, the majority of states have raised minimum wages above the federal threshold (from $7.50 in New Mexico to $13.25 in Washington, D.C.). These state laws have a huge effect on the quality of life for working families."

Stay on top of Orlando news and views. Sign up for our weekly Headlines newsletter.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Orlando Weekly. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Orlando Weekly, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at feedback@orlandoweekly.com.

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Orlando Weekly Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Orlando Weekly Press Club for as little as $5 a month.