Florida’s minimum wage will rise by 15 cents, to $8.25, starting in January, but it will have little impact on Central Florida because theme parks and many national chains – including Disney World and Target – are increasing minimum hourly pay to $10 and $11 this year.

Target pledged to raise the minimum by 2020 to $15 hourly. A union coalition representing Disney workers also is aiming for that figure in ongoing negotiations — saying it represents a “living wage” that would also help boost the economy by sparking more consumer spending. Disney is proposing up to a 2.5 percent salary increase for current employees in its next deal with union workers, while freezing the starting minimum wage at $10 an hour for new workers. Disney says that with overtime and premium pay, its average salary is about $13.34 an hour.

But about 150 businesses in Florida said they would need to cut staff if the minimum wage rises to $15, among 300 businesses surveyed recently by a pro-business, conservative think tank, the Employment Policy Institute.

“Many companies are choosing to raise wages voluntarily. We’d argue that this suggests the lack of need for a broad mandate that some small businesses cannot absorb,” said Justin Bruneau, a spokesman for the institute. The survey was conducted by Lloyd Corder, a part-time instructor and marketing strategist and researcher for Carnegie Mellon.

Democrats running for governor in 2018 have made minimum wage a high-profile topic in early campaigning, while Republicans haven’t said much about it.

Potential gubernatorial candidate and Orlando attorney John Morgan has made a $15 minimum wage one of his major talking points. Of three other declared candidates for the Democratic nomination, only candidate Gwen Graham has declined to name $15 as the target level for the minimum wage.


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