As workers struggle to keep up with rising costs, Louisiana continues to be one of only five states without a state minimum wage. This means many workers in our state continue to work for the $7.25 federal minimum wage, which has not been raised since 2009. Over the last 13 years, increases in the cost of living have eroded the purchasing power of that $7.25 by about 25%.
We’ve released a new factsheet on how raising the minimum wage to $15 by 2025 in Wisconsin would impact the state’s workers. Using data from the Economic Policy Institute’s recently released report on the Raise the Wage Act of 2021 (which would raise the national minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2025), we’ve summarized findings for Wisconsin and added some context to fill in the picture on wage standards in the state and region.
COWS’ State of Working Wisconsin 2020 showed the ways the pandemic and the COVID-19 economic collapse has exposed and exacerbated economic inequality in the state. The workers who have carried the brunt of the economic burden are disproportionately people of color and women, working in our lowest wage sectors. These are the very workers who stand to gain from a higher minimum wage.
In November 2020, Floridians made the historic decision to move an estimated 2.5 million Floridians closer to a living wage with the passage of Amendment 2. The state minimum wage increase goes into effect in September 2021, increasing from $8.65 to $10 per hour, then rising by $1 per hour each year until it reaches $15 in 2026.
In anticipation of this increase, Florida Policy Institute (FPI) and Rutgers University’s Center for Innovation in Worker Organization (CIWO) assessed the extent to which the current state minimum wage is enforced. FPI and CIWO analyzed over 15 years of U.S. Census data and recent records obtained from the Florida Attorney General’s Office to do so.
Failing to pay workers the minimum wage is but one of many forms of wage theft. However, given the timeliness of Amendment 2, wage theft in this report refers solely to minimum wage violations among low-wage workers (those with incomes in the bottom 20 percent) unless otherwise indicated.
FPI and CIWO’s analysis finds:
- The minimum wage has been largely unenforced for at least a decade.
- After Florida’s 2005 minimum wage increase, its minimum wage violation rate more than doubled to 17 percent by the end of 2007.
- Victims of wage theft lose 18 percent of the minimum wage to which they are entitled, on average, or $1.32 per hour.
- Floridians in the state’s top industries (agriculture, service, and real estate) suffer the highest wage theft rates.
- Black, Latina, and immigrant women are more likely to face wage theft than their peers.
- If these violation rates persist, Florida could expect to lose an average of $25.3 million in sales tax revenue each year over the next six years.
Before Amendment 2 goes into effect, Florida policymakers should mitigate these unsettling trends by reintroducing a State Department of Labor equipped with the authority and resources necessary to ensure working Floridians are paid the wages they are entitled to.