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Tuesday, November 3, 2020 Leer en Español

Florida Votes for Job-Killing $15 Minimum Wage Hike

When employers are legally forced to pay more for labor than it is worth in the market, they naturally and inevitably cut jobs.

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Florida voters had more than just a presidential election on their hands when they went to the polls on Tuesday. A controversial ballot initiative, Florida Amendment 2, offered voters the chance to hike the state’s minimum wage to $15 by 2026. However, due to Florida rules for citizen-driven ballot initiatives, it required 60 percent of the vote, not a majority, to become law.

The results are now in: The amendment has passed with 61 percent support.

Critics warn the hike will kill jobs. Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association President Carol Dover, who lobbied against the initiative, said it “has a lot of feel-good appeal” but says that “behind all the warm and fuzzies lie a plethora of unintended consequences.” 

“The most obvious solutions include reducing the number of employees, reducing the number of hours remaining employees work and seeking labor alternatives like automation,” Dover warns.

There’s good reason to think these warnings will come true.

A study from economists at Miami University and Trinity University concluded that the minimum wage hike would lead to 158,000 fewer jobs in Florida. This echoes national research by both the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office and the Employment Policies Institute, which found a federal $15 minimum wage would kill millions of jobs nationwide.

Why do minimum wage increases kill jobs? It’s the simple economics of supply and demand.

Labor is a product like any other. If the cost of soda was artificially mandated at $10 per can by the government, the simple fact is that consumers would buy less of it. When employers are legally forced to pay more for labor than it is worth in the market, they naturally and inevitably do the same.

“By the simplest and most basic economics, a price artificially raised tends to cause more to be supplied and less to be demanded than when prices are left to be determined by supply and demand in a free market,” famed economist Thomas Sowell wrote in Basic Economics. “The result is a surplus, whether the price that is set artificially high is that of farm produce or labor.” 

“Unfortunately, the real minimum wage is always zero,” Sowell concluded. “And that is the wage that many workers receive in the wake of the creation or escalation of a government-mandated minimum wage.”

Voters no doubt had good intentions when they went into the ballot box and backed a $15 minimum wage. But those good intentions will provide little solace for the Floridians who find themselves unemployed in the coming years as a result.