Tourism workers earning minimum wage get raise

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Tomorrow holds good news for the majority of tourism workers in St Augustine and across the state who are forced to squeeze by with only minimum wage earnings. Florida is one of 18 states who will raise the benchmark economic opportunity indicator.

According to a Turkish proverb, memorialized in Chapter 12 of the Essays of Francis Bacon, published in 1625, “If the mountain won’t come to Muhammad, then Muhammad must go to the mountain.” Congress has kept the federal minimum wage at $7.25-per-hour since 2009. For years, many state and local governments have been driving up wages in response to federal inaction.

As of New Year’s Day, workers in the following states can expect a round of raises: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, and Washington. Florida already exceeded the federal minimum wage; so, these new raises will push, even higher, the paychecks for the lowest-paid workers in the state.

On January 1, 2018, Florida’s minimum wage is set to increase from $8.10 to $8.25-per-hour. Many of St Johns County’s tourism employees earn tips in addition to the salary paid by their employer.

“The extra $40 adjusted weekly over the $7.25-per-hour federal minimum wage may not sound like much, but it represents nearly $200 monthly that our lowest paid employees can apply towards their rent,” one downtown merchant said.

In restaurants, for example, where servers might expect to earn 15%-20% of each guest check, employers will be required to pay only $5.23-per-hour. However, tipped workers must earn and report at least $3.02-per-hour in “tip credits” in order to reach the updated $8.25-per-hour minimum wage.

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