Report: Florida ranks 32nd on list of best states for workers

Florida 3d Map flag on American dollars illustration
Florida's ranking is likely to improve next year after a minimum wage hike kicks in.

When it comes to the best places in America to work, Florida is below the middle of the pack, according to a new report comparing all 50 states, Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C.

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

Using data based on laws and policies in effect as of July 1, Oxfam ranked states along three 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 noted that the state’s $8.65 minimum wage meets less than 27% of what a family of four needs to get by. The state’s $6.98 tipped minimum wage fared far better, meeting nearly 81% of the minimum wage needs.

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

While the Sunshine State does extend its minimum wage policy to cover farmworkers, partially meeting the criteria necessary for a good wage policies ranking, Oxfam analysts subtracted points for local governments’ inability to set minimum wages above the state standard and because average unemployment benefits covered just 13.4% of wages needed to cover the cost of living.

Regarding worker protection policies, Florida ranked 35th. The state gained big points for its sexual harassment protections and mandate providing equal pay across gender and race.

However, the state received negative marks for not providing accommodations for pregnant workers, breastfeeding in the workplace, paid family leave, paid sick leave and flexible scheduling, protections for domestic workers. Florida also lost points for, among other things, not prohibiting pay secrecy practices or restricting access to salary history, which helps to reduce gender and racial biases.

Finally, Florida ranked 26th for its rights to organize. The state provides collective bargaining and wage negotiations to teachers, protects worker against wage theft retaliation and requires collective bargaining for public workers — all good attributes; however, Florida’s so-called “right-to-work” law is known to suppress unions, and Oxfam determined that the state does not fully legalize project labor agreements to ensure contracted workers receive fair wages.

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.


  • Alex

    September 5, 2021 at 1:44 pm

    How many years have we been under Republican control of the Legislature?

    There’s your answer.

    Oh, and you can bet these same idiots are looking hard for a way to gut the minimum wage increase.

  • PeterH

    September 5, 2021 at 6:02 pm

    Currently there are ten million jobs available in the USA and eight million unemployed.

    In Florida, unemployment stands at 5.1% while the national average is at 5.2%

    If employers refuse to pay higher wages, there are only four available options to meet the current demand for workers:

    1. Children return to the classroom and parent caregivers can return to fill the minimum wage jobs.
    2. Employers can offer higher wages to encourage more people to apply.
    3. The USA can encourage ten million more immigrants to come to the USA with the promise of citizenship.
    4. The USA can follow the Cape Cod employment model and hire temporary workers from Eastern Europe. However, ….. these seasonal workers are provided housing on Cape Cod……not sure how that would work in Florida.

    Most shopping malls and restaurants are hiring. At the start of the pandemic MANY beach hound seasonal workers returned north to live with their parents. Maybe they’ll return in the Winter ….maybe they won’t. South Florida rents are expensive.

    • Tom

      September 6, 2021 at 7:24 am

      Incompetent Biden/Harris economic and administrative efforts.

      Minority/African American unemployment went up, 8.2% to 8.9%.
      So much for helping minority people in need.

      Dismal job growth reported. 225,000 actual jobs nationally over market estimated 775,000 suggested.

      With over 10 million jobs available the federal unemployment expires this weekend. People should be returning to work.

      Florida has been a model for employment, work with 64,000 new jobs and 5.1% state unemployment. Lower state rate than national.

      Credit to Gov DeSantis, America’s Governor. He kept the state and business people growing.

      POTUS 46 approval is in low 40’s, dropping 16 pts. His Florida negatives are -11. This help ensures Repub legislative gains nationally and in Florida in 22.

      The old line “It’s the economy stupid” has real meaning. Biden/Harris don’t have a clue.

      The great Trump growth economy has passed on now to Biden. His policies reckless spending own it now just like Covid. His dismal numbers are on the Afghan debacle, reckless economy & Covid.

    • JD

      September 6, 2021 at 8:58 am

      You hit the nail on the ahead with your 4 points.

      And to further your point, even in the states where the extra Federal benefits were removed, a significant portion of the jobs still went unfulfilled because of points 1,3, and 4.

      Don’t forget the Baby Boomers that retired in droves because of the pandemic, too. This left a lot of open spots.

      Those same retired Boomers and many others migrated to FL, making the demand for everything grow, making businesses need more employees as well. So it was worked on both ends.

      All of this will allow the workers to maintain their wage demand advantage.

      But it will eventually balance out, either through migration within the States, immigrants, or business pivots and automation.

      The real issues are wages and child-care / adult care givers due to COVID. Address that long term and short term problems and this will go away. But then there is the issue of inflation.

Comments are closed.


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