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Study shows minimum wage increase, job creation coincide

Raising minimum wage a ballot initiative for 2016 Florida election

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(Penny Mathews/SXC)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Would paying employees a higher wage force job cuts? A new study shows the opposite. But local governments in Florida are not allowed to pass their own minimum wage ordinances.

Opponents say upping wages would result in lost jobs, but government watchdog group Integrity Florida says not so fast.

"We wanted to take an objective look at the claim made by some that an increase in the minimum wage means employers would cut jobs," said Ben Wilcox, with Integrity Florida. "In short, our research found no evidence that claim is true."

The group took federal Department of Labor statistics from every state in the country. The conclusion: the states that upped pay fared better than those that didn't when it came to creating jobs.

"In the 25 states, plus the District of Columbia, where the minimum wage has increased since Jan. 1, 2014, job growth has actually been higher than in states where the rate did not go up," Wilcox said.

Florida, which pays 80 cents more than the federal minimum wage, saw job growth of more than 5 percent over the course of the study.

There is a ballot initiative for the 2016 election in Florida to raise the minimum wage. Integrity Florida's study didn't examine potential outcomes if that were to happen or if the minimum wage went even higher.

"The ones that raised the rate the most had the most job growth, interestingly," said Alan Stonecipher, with Integrity Florida. "Now, $15 or $13 or whatever, this report did not address."

West Virginia was the only state that raised the minimum wage and didn't see employment gains. Integrity Florida said its report was funded through its own reserves, not anyone with any interest in raising the minimum wage. It also didn't take a position on whether pay should go up.