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More Money, More (Potential) Problems

HBCU students and professors in Florida explain how the $15 minimum wage initiative will affect the economy and citizens.

Floridians have the opportunity this November to vote on an initiative that can ensure those working service jobs are better compensated for their hard labor.

A minimum wage increase is appearing on the ballot for the first time in 16 years. Florida Amendment 2 would raise the minimum wage to $10 per hour by September of next year, then it would increase by $1 each year until 2026 when it will finally be $15 an hour.

Twenty-one states have raised their minimum wage this calendar year, including the Sunshine State. Florida’s minimum wage increased 10 cents and is now $8.56 per hour. Sixty-seven percent of Floridian voters are in favor of an increase, according to CNBC. Priye Torulagha, a political science and public administration professor at Florida Memorial University, thinks raising the minimum substantially could make employees more invested in their jobs.

“The gap between people at the top and people at the bottom is too large,” he said. “People at the top are [getting] high salaries and benefits, but people at the bottom can barely pay rent. They would be happier and would want to work if the minimum wage were to be raised. It’s long overdue.”

Though many have had concerns about labor costs and their impact on businesses choosing to open in Florida, others believe higher wages would be a net gain for the state’s economy. Workers with more money in their hands, the thinking goes, could better contribute to the economy.

Francis Ikeokwu

Francis Ikeokwu, business administration professor at Edward Waters College, agrees. “Personally, I will emphasize that raising the minimum wage would boost business growth due to increased spending from those receiving wage increases,” Ikeokwu said. “You can argue
the concepts in various ways based on standard of living.” There are over 900,000 college-aged students in the state of Florida, according to Florida Insider, and many of them work these minimum wage jobs as they finish their academic careers. Due to the Federal Fair Labor Standards, full-time college students in Florida can be paid as little as $7.28 per hour (85 percent of Florida’s minimum wage), but many need to cover extra expenses outside of school.

“A lot of college students have real bills. Whether it’s rent, car, phone bill or even school,” said Florida A&M University senior psychology major Jasmine Hudson. “It would be beneficial to make money that will allow us to live comfortably without having to work 40 or more hours just to have a decent check.”

Jasmine Hudson

Hudson, a full-time student, makes time for a job but it only pays minimum wage. On some occasions, she has had to choose which bills to pay because low wages keep her from being financially solvent. Though it would take longer to help her, she is in favor of the gradual increase detailed in the proposed amendment.

“Going from $8.56 to $15 in just a year would not only put people without a job, but it would sky rocket everything else around us; it wouldn’t help the lower class,” she said. “A gradual process is always good because we can monitor the progress it truly makes and the impact it’ll have over time if we decide to raise it again.” For this amendment to be passed, 60 percent of voters need to vote YES in favor of the decision.

Next: With the presidential election just weeks away, numerous voters are still reluctant to vote at polling stations in-person due concerns tied to the pandemic.