Florida ranks 32nd on best states for workers list

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When it comes to the best places in America to work, Florida is just about in the middle according to a new report comparing all 50 states.

Florida ranked 32nd overall in the 2021 edition of the poverty-fighting nonprofit Oxfam America’s “The Best and Worst States to Work in America” report. It is an index of work-related policies and laws.

Using data based on the policies and laws in effect as of July 1, Oxfam ranked several states along three different dimensions: wages (40% of the total score), work protections (35%), and rights to organize (25%).

Florida’s wage policies earned it a No. 31 on the report, which took note that the state’s $8.65 minimum wage meets less than 27% of what a family of four needs to make it day by day. The state’s $6.98 tipped minimum wage fared much better, meeting nearly 81% of the minimum wage needs.

By this same time next year, Florida’s position will possibly improve after the first of many pay bumps required by a constitutional amendment voters approved in November goes into effect. Beginning on Sept. 30, employers will be required to pay workers a minimum of $10 per hour. By 2026, Florida’s hourly minimum wage is expected to be $15.

While Florida does extend its minimum wage policy to cover farmworkers, which partially meets the necessary criteria for a good wage policy ranking, Oxfam analysts subtracted points for local governments’ inability to set minimum wages above Florida’s standard. Also, average unemployment benefits covered only 13.4% of wages needed to cover living costs.

Florida ranked 35th regarding worker protection policies. The Sunshine State gained major points for its protections against sexual harassment and for its mandate of providing equal pay across both gender and race.  

The state received negative marks for not providing any accommodations for paid sick leave, paid family leave, pregnant workers, breastfeeding in the workplace, flexible scheduling, and protections for domestic workers. Points were also lost for restricting access to salary history and not prohibiting pay secrecy practices which helps to reduce racial and gender biases. 

Florida ranked 26th for its rights to organize. The state provides wage negotiations and collective bargaining to teachers, protects workers against wage theft retaliation, and requires collective bargaining for public workers. These are all considered good attributes, however, Florida’s “right-to-work” law has a reputation for suppressing unions, and Oxfam decided that the state does not fully legalize project labor agreements that ensure all contracted workers receive fair wages. 

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